Prep soccer: Taylor hat trick lifts Winfield boys to State Tournament
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. - These Generals are leading a march to Beckley.
Winfield's Steven Taylor scored a goal, his third of the game, with two minutes to play to give the Generals a 3-2 win against Huntington in the Class AAA Region 4 Championship at Point Pleasant High School. It will be Winfield's first appearance in the boys soccer State Tournament.
"It is the greatest feeling ever right now," Taylor said. "We've never been to states in AAA ever and it's really just great."
Taylor, a junior, missed the majority of the season with a broken collarbone suffered in the Generals' first game. Fortunately for Winfield, Taylor was able to return to the lineup, albeit not at 100 percent.
"We put some things together enough to win it," Winfield Coach Mike Foster said. "It's been a long season. We didn't have a winning regular season and had a lot of people injured. We're just starting to put it back together."
Huntington (12-4-2) dominated possession for the majority of the first half and peppered Winfield (9-9-1) goalkeeper Bryce Boggs with shots. The Highlanders, however, could not break through.
Generals junior Steven Taylor broke the deadlock just before the halftime whistle with a strong individual effort to get around a Huntington defender and sneak a shot past Highlanders' goalkeeper Chad Dye.
Winfield went up 2-0 early in the second half when Nathan Keefe struck a corner kick that found Taylor's foot in the penalty area. Taylor hit a volley hard and low that beat Dye.
Huntington was not done, though. The Highlanders chipped away at the Generals lead when Max Simpson found the goal on a free kick from approximately 30 yards away.
Simpson struck again three minutes later after a foul in the penalty area by Winfield resulted in a Huntington penalty kick. Simpson drove the ball to his right to beat an outstretched Boggs for the equalizer.
The Highlanders, much like they had all evening, were relentless on attack in the late stages of the match. Huntington had several chances to tie the game in the final minutes after Taylor's go-ahead strike, but each time the Generals defense was able to withstand the attack.
"We said execution would be the key today," Huntington Coach Sammy Boateng said. "We just need to finish. They're a very good team but tonight if we would have executed it would have been better for us. I can't fault my guys for coming back from a 2-0 deficit. That's incredible."
Winfield will play Parkersburg at the State Tournament on Friday in Beckley. That game is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.
Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4872. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.