WHEELING - At one point this summer there was some question as to whether Wheeling Central would be able to field a boys' soccer team. That certainly doesn't bode well when the opening-night opponent is talented and tradition-laden Weir.
Sophomore Zach Hannah scored the game's first two goals and the Red Riders (2-0) tacked on six more in an 8-0 victory Monday night at Bishop Schmitt Field on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University. Weir led 5-0 by halftime and scored only when there wasn't another option in the second half, showing expert sportsmanship against a inexperienced but game Wheeling Central (0-1) squad.
''One day you're going to be on the other side of the ball and you're going to hope that coaches don't pound on you when you have less-experienced players,'' Red Riders coach Jim Luevano said. ''We started with the flat four (defense) and it seems to be working real well so far this season.''
Coming of a victory in its opener over the weekend, Weir wasted little time getting on the board as Hannah broke in behind the defense - turns out this was foreshadowing of what was to come - and buried the ball into the bottom-right corner of the goal past Central keeper Tyler Newmeyer. Not long after, on a similar play, Hannah was in all alone and went top-shelf for his second.
''Weir has a very good, powerful, experienced team, and it shows,'' Maroon Knights coach Brian Roth said. ''They go hard to every ball.
''I've got five freshmen on the team this year and three sophomores, and none of those have played in high school previously.
''We're trying to teach positioning, field awareness and that comes with game time. We're building right now.''
Ashton Knnutila then settled a ball in the box and sent a laser to the back of the net for a 3-0 cushion, before sophomore Michael Gresko scored the prettiest goal of the match by deflecting a pass in with his back to the goal.
Ryan Kirk, a junior, made it 5-0 as he, too, found himself behind the defense and did the rest.
''During practice that is what we really focus on, is touches, touches, touches and ball control,'' Luevano said. ''We figure if we have excellent touch on the ball we can control the whole game.
''We stress that a lot when we're at practice. They know the type of soccer I want to play and they do it very well.''
David Gianni aimed for, and connected, into the low corner to start the second half and an own goal, on a play in which a Central defender used his hand to keep the ball out of the net, made it 7-0. Chayton Luevano added the eighth and final goal.
Roth agreed that one of the major differences between the two clubs was communication.
''Communication is a key part of soccer at any level. With the newer guys that aren't experienced communication becomes an afterthought,'' he said. ''They're more worried about getting the ball, getting control of it and making the right pass, and the communication then lags behind.
''The Weir team communicates well because their ball-handling skills are beyond that entry level.''
Neither goalkeeper, Newmeyer or Weir's Michael Cerado, was charted with a save.