Big Reds claim sectional title

Parkersburg High won the Class AAA region IV section I championship Thursday night at Stadium Field. The Big Reds are one win away from advancing to the state tournament. Photo by Joe Albright.

PARKERSBURG — Don Fosselman’s Big Reds are one win away from making back-to-back state tournament appearances after a 3-1 victory over Ripley in the Class AAA Region IV, Section 1 final Thursday night on their home turf.

“This was a tough one,” said Fosselman, when asked how it felt to claim the school’s 24th sectional title. “Ripley was a very good team.”

Viking players showed how good they were early in the game by holding PHS without a shot for the first nine minutes of the contest. Broedy Boice put the pressure on the Big Reds even more when he took a pass from Elijah Ross then buried it past a diving Jacob McKnight for a 1-0 lead in the 6th minute.

“We knew we could do it,” said Ripley head man Tim Ross, when asked about the sequence. “We knew what we had to mark. We talked about it a lot game plan wise. We had to correct a couple of mistakes from the first part of the season. When we played them up here earlier in the year we gave them two own goals one in each half … accidents happen. But we knew they were a good team. We knew if we could work the ball passing a little better. Knew the big threat Matt Runyon – kid is absolutely dangerous. Tribute to coach Fosselman, they reload every single year.”

A trend emerged early in the night. Goals scored could have been a lot higher, but balls going over the crossbar was the theme of the night. Each team missed countless shots over the net, just out of the reach of both keepers.

Ripley teammates Elijah Ross (14) and Keagun Jackson (1) along with Parkersburg's Ian Domenick (5) and Anthony Fleshman (26) scramble for a loose ball during the Big Reds' 3-1 Class AAA Region IV, Section 1 victory over the Vikings Tuesday night. Photo by Joe Albright.

Jacob McKnight had six saves, while Chris Neil had eight.

PHS didn’t panic after falling behind and kept the pressure up throughout the first half.

Sam Potts finally got past the stingy Neil in the 19th minute of the contest. Parkersburg’s sophomore sent a ball past the Viking keeper from close proximity in the scoring box to knot things at 1.

“I just saw the ball sitting in front of the goal with nobody around and I attacked it as hard as I could,” said Potts. “I was hoping for it to just get on goal so maybe a shot would go in.”

Kiran Patel gave the Big Reds the lead for good in the 53rd minute. The junior sent back an Isaiah Owen miss after it rebounded in the middle of a skirmish. Neil went down on the shot. A mad scramble for the ball to protect the net or score ensued.

Ian Domenick put the cherry on top with his 79th minute header to send the home crowd into frenzy.

It was a dominating half for the Big Reds. Even though Ripley had five shots on goal, they weren’t quality opportunities thanks to the Big Red defense.

The first 40 minutes mirrored the closing period in many ways. The Vikings were on the attack often, while PHS had to guard the ball.

“Tim Ross does a great job coaching that team,” said Fosselman. “That is a very good team. They have one of the best players in the state (Sam Pierson). He is awesome. I have to give Parker Miller all the credit in the world. He (Pierson) got a couple of good looks and Jacob was there to clean it up but Parker was on him. We sacrificed a lot moving Parker back there and gave up a little of our attack. Unsung heroes came up and did what they were supposed to do. It was a great team effort tonight, but my hat goes off to Parker Miller and what he did. He was outstanding tonight.”

Pierson, who had two goals in the Aug. 31 matchup, had two or three decent looks on the evening. However, Miller played his shadow most of the night.

Parkersburg (16-3-2) moves on to face Hurricane at 5 p.m. Tuesday inside Stadium Field in the regional final.