WEIRTON - Though it started slowly, the No. 3 team in the West Virginia Class AA-A boys soccer rankings, Weir High, came away with a 2-0 win over Hancock County rival Oak Glen Tuesday at Jimmy Carey Stadium.
"Our coaching staff is very proud of this team," said Weir head coach Joe Pepe. "This team is very good on and off the field. You can't take anything away from Oak Glen. Being a county rival, they always come down and play their best game against us.
"You have to give them credit. They didn't quit. They kept the pressure on, but in the second half we did take control."
ON THE RUN — Weir’s Alex Hannah pushes the ball upfield as Oak Glen’s Chris Bailey, left, and Devin Polen defend during the Red Riders’ 2-0 win over the Golden Bears Tuesday at Jimmy Carey Stadium.
-- Fred Younce
For a majority of the first half, the Golden Bears controlled the ball, won most 50-50 balls and kept the Red Riders on their heels.
Despite that fact, Weir was able to grab a lead just three minutes and seven seconds into the game on one of its few first half opportunities. Shane Davis sent a beautiful pass through to Kenny Muhart who sent a shot from about 11 yards out past Oak Glen goalie Nick Fryer for the early 1-0 lead.
The Golden Bears went on to control the majority of the remainder of the first half, but were unsuccessful in putting the ball past Weir goaltender Matt Tenaglio.
"I'm very proud of these boys every day," said Oak Glen head coach Aaron Bennett. "They give me everything they got, and we're trying to learn a new style. I'm making them pass, we're looking like a soccer team, and it's nice."
The second half looked entirely different, yet the result was the same with Weir scoring one to Oak Glen's zero..
The Red Riders came out with a fire in the second half, no longer being beaten to 50-50 balls, and making crisp passes.
"We came out a little flat," said Pepe of the first half. "We have a lot laying on the line here. We had a nice talk at halftime. They came out in the second half and played a little better."
They only came away with one more goal in the half, but it was enough to ice the game as the Golden Bears didn't offer much of a threat after intermission.
At the 29:22 mark Muhart returned the favor, assisting on a Davis goal. The scoring opportunity was set up when Ryan Duke won the ball with a header off an Oak Glen goal kick that went to Muhart who left the ball for Davis for the score.
"We had to start winning those balls, and we had to start playing our game," said Pepe of Duke's header. "These kids know what they have to do. We tell them the glass of water to us is always half full, and we're always ready to go."
Weir closed things out from there to move to 9-1-1.
"We're a good team on our way to being a great team," said Pepe. "We have to take one game at a time. We're 9-1-1, these kids, if the calculations are right, won Class 4A of the OVAC for the seventh or eight straight time, and about nine total.
"Hopefully we get the No. 1 seed in our section, and sit back and see how everything else pans out with the tournament."
Both keepers played strong with Tenaglio saving eight shots for the shut out and Fryer turning away 10 shots.
Weir and Oak Glen take to the field again Saturday with the Red Riders traveling to Parkersburg South and the Golden Bears hosting Jefferson County Christian School.
"Now we travel down to Parkersburg South, and they've won six or seven matches already," said Pepe. "They're a big AAA school, so we'll see how we pan out here Saturday against them."
Added Bennett, "Right now I'm just looking for a break for my team to get healthy. We know what Weir High has. We know we were going to come in and it was going to be a tough game.
"Every year they're good. Just plain, straight out, they're good. We just played last night at Indian Creek, we're beat up, and we were beat up before that.
"Nothing against those guys, they did exactly what they needed to do. That's a good team form Weir."