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PHS boys soccer falls to Wheeling Park

PARKERSBURG — Tempers flared along the action in a Tuesday night showdown at Stadium Field, as Wheeling Park defeated Parkersburg 3-1. While these teams came into this contest on the opposite ends of the win-loss spectrum, the homestanding Big Reds (5-6-2) gave the visiting Patriots (11-2) what WP head coach Mario Julian called his team’s “first real test” of the season.

What looked to be a duel between GKs Caleb Thomas and Dannen Foraker lived up to the hype in the first half, as PHS’s Thomas matched his counterpart up until the 32nd minute. Coleman Meredith received a pass from Scott Pettiford, and the Patriot striker took advantage of Thomas being unable to clear the ball out by sneaking it past him for the match’s first goal.

Thomas was on his toes for a large portion of the contest, but he almost got offensive production from his side moments after that score.

Shooting from left to right, Tristan Brogan was just wide on his equalizing goal attempt. That kept the score 1-0, as the two sides stayed close together heading into the break.

The Big Reds took initial control coming out of the gate for the final 40 minutes, and that constant attack paid off in the 58th minute.

Grant Miller struck on a header to tie it for PHS, and both teams ramped up the intensity from there. Physical play and a dwindling clock further magnified the situation, and WPHS’s Taylor McFarland almost gave his squad the advantage a minute after Miller’s equalizer.

On a breakaway, McFarland had a 1-on-1 opportunity but was denied by a diving Thomas, who prevented the Patriot from going top shelf.

Big Red head coach Billy Shed talked about his goalie and how the match’s quick pace led to an increase in physical play.

“Our team is pretty tough, and we’re not going to back down from anybody,” the first-year head coach said. “(Thomas) really had some nice saves, there in the second half. There were a couple breakaways they had, when we pushed the defense up a little bit (including a last-minute score from WP’s Andrew Glass to make it 3-1). You could argue we should’ve got a penalty kick that would’ve made it 2-1 us, but we never seem to get those calls. They’re a tough team, but we played like one of the top teams.”

The last blow from Glass and the No. 4 Patriots caused both sidelines to talk back and forth to each other, and as the match ended, the squads argued after the last whistle blew. Coach Julian was happy about his team’s efforts, as the Patriots passed their first test of the year.

“It was a good game played, and then words were said, but the important part is that it was a good game,” he said. “We haven’t faced a team that has played as physical as them. It forced us into playing a different style of soccer. At times, we didn’t handle it well, but our best players, Coleman and Andrew showed up for us.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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