High school soccer: Wildcats earn shutout victory over Red Dragons
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It was exactly two weeks ago that Nitro played the part of the opponent Winfield could not overlook before playing Hurricane for the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship.
On Monday, it was the Wildcats (13-8) trying not to look past visiting St. Albans (4-11-1) in a Class AAA Region 4, Section 1 first-round game with the winner going against the top-ranked Redskins tonight.
Seniors Evan Eich and Alex White made sure Nitro did not forget the business at hand as they led the Wildcats to a 4-0 win.
Eich scored twice and added an assist, while White contributed a goal and controlled the midfield area. Matt Kahn added a late score to account for the final margin.
"We played as a team and not selfish," Eich said. "We definitely have trust in all of our players now."
"Now" is the key word.
The Wildcats had won only 10 games total over the last three years going into the season.
Along the way, seven senior starters developed that trust Eich spoke of and then first-year Coach Brian Young came aboard with what seemed to be the missing piece of the puzzle.
A positive attitude.
"The morale is higher," White said. "We used to be get down about playing good teams but now it is 'Let's go beat George Washington' or 'Let's go beat Hurricane.' "
That the Redskins only managed to take a narrow 1-0 decision against Nitro during the regular season also provides some encouragement for the Wildcats.
Also, Young thinks his squad is peaking at the right time.
"Most definitely," he said. "Everybody is healthy, everybody is ready to go."
There is respect for the state's top-ranked Class AAA squad and MSAC champion, but not fear.
"Hurricane is obviously a good team but we are ready," Young said. "We've got to play every minute of that game but we have been doing that all year anyway.
"We've been scouting Hurricane all year. We know how they play."
The Wildcats have also been steadily improving all year - especially on defense.
Nitro allowed 18 goals in its first 11 games but only eight in its last 10.
"Once we started having that winning attitude it really helped," Young said.
Only fourth-ranked Winfield and fifth-ranked George Washington managed to score twice in a game against Nitro during that time.
"They've done everything we've asked of them," Young said. "We're playing a lot better, 100 percent better, than at the start of the year."
Nitro senior keeper Lee Klocke only had to make three saves, while his counterpart Brian Knight, was forced to make 15 for St. Albans.
Next up is the tough task of turning around and playing Hurricane in less than 24 hours.
"This was our preparation right here," White said of Monday's game.
And the Redskins had better be ready for the way the Wildcats plan to play.
"We're ready to give 110 percent," Eich said.
Eich and a large group of fellow seniors are not quite ready to hang up their cleats just yet.
In other boys action:
Herbert Hoover 4, Scott 1 - Jesse Weese scored three goals to lead the Huskies to the Class AA/A Region 4, Section 2 victory over the Skyhawks.
Jacob Weese added a goal for Hoover (6-12-2), while Andrew Mercer had two saves.
For Scott (2-14-1), Ryan Cowan scored the lone goal on an assist from Michael Miller.
Hoover advances to face Charleston Catholic at 7:30 p.m. today.
In girls action:
Sissonville 1, St. Joseph 0 - Karli Pinkerton scored a second-half goal to lead the Indians to the Class AA/A Region 4, Section 1 victory over the Irish.
Cassidy Lewis had an assist for Sissonville (19-2-0), which faces Herbert Hoover in the championship at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Charleston Catholic 12, Sherman 0 - Payton Mullen scored four goals as the Irish cruised to an easy Class AA/A Region 4, Section 2 victory over the Tide.
Quincy McKown had two goals for Catholic (13-5-2), while Peyton Keener, Sarah Fox, Jenny Borman, Hannah George, Katie Pulliam and Casey Gennett added goals.
For Sherman (1-13-1), Kaylee Gordon recorded 27 saves.