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Big Reds battle GW boys to dramatic 3-3 draw

Parkersburg’s Kota Butcher, who scored a goal during Saturday afternoon’s 3-3 draw against George Washington at Stadium Field, heads the ball while being challenged by Patriot Alex Carpenter. (Photo by Jay W. Bennett)

PARKERSBURG — Three-time defending Class AAA state champion George Washington wasn’t able to hold a 3-1 halftime advantage here Saturday afternoon at Stadium Field as the top-ranked Patriots had to settle for a 3-3 draw versus No. 5 Parkersburg in what was a chippy match from start to finish.

“A typical PHS soccer game, I guess. Pretty intense. Lots of pressure,” said Big Red boss Billy Shedd, whose squad will carry a 10-1-3 record into Tuesday night’s home match versus Hurricane. “We tried to play our game and keep the pressure on those guys and not really worry about the other team even though those guys are number one in the state.

“We try to tell them number one can be beat just like we can be beat. We’re number five for a reason, you know, let’s go out there and try to prove something.”

George Washington, now 10-1-1 with a home affair Tuesday up next against Capital, didn’t waste any time denting the scoreboard as Alec Ellis’ corner kick was headed in by Nick Ihnat with 39:17 still showing on the clock.

In the 6th minute, Big Red defender Grant Miller was issued his first yellow card, which was followed 65 seconds later by GW’s Noah McLaughlin getting one of his own.

Prior to Tanner Marlow getting the ball ahead to Kota Butcher for a breakaway scoring chance he succeeded on Patriot keeper Dawson Lunsford in the 10th minute, GW’s Jack Williams collided in midair with Big Red keeper Aiden Merritt on a 50-50 ball that Merritt was able to grab.

With 16:29 left before intermission, Miller was given another yellow card and the Big Reds were forced to play 11 on 10.

Just five second into the 29th minute, Brady Stafford assisted on Ihnat’s second tally. The Patriots took a 3-1 lead at the break when Caleb Carney assisted on Stafford’s tally in the 38th minute.

PHS kept the pressure on to open the second half. Butcher got a ball ahead to Marlow, who was looking to score, but Patriot Aiden Holbert was there on defense. In the 50th minute, Bryce Henthorn and Tanner Minnite each had deep throw-ins. Nothing materialized as the only shot came after Minnite’s throw to Connor Gribble, but his shot went wide.

Riley Smith also had a throw-in during the 51st minute, but Marlow’s shot also was wide.

The chippy play continued into the second half and after a scuffle amongst the players, George Washington’s Connor Stricklen was assessed a red card, which allowed the Big Reds to play 10 on 10 for the final 21:39.

Substitute Sam Chichester had just checked in for the red and white after the red card and a mere 28 seconds later he raced down the sideline outside the hash mark, approached the football goal line and unleashed a laser that drilled the right post and went in to make it 3-2.

“Oh my gosh. He banged that, didn’t he? He drilled the post,” Shedd said of the tally.

Riding that momentum, the Big Reds continued to push and finally evened the match with 13 minutes remaining when Gribble hit a perfect corner kick. Although Lunsford was able to grab it, his momentum carried the ball just past the line for a goal.

“He caught it and faded into the goal is what they said. We’ll take it,” added coach Shedd. “We kind of pushed on them and took advantage of them for a second and got a couple goals on them.

“Giving up the early goal and then going down a man is not ideal. Those guys are a great team. We’re just trying to get back into their realm one step at a time. Next time we see them maybe we can get a ‘W’ up on them.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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