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Wheeling Park boys soccer team makes chances count, defeats Big Red

STEUBENVILLE — The game was even — except for the final score.

The Big Red boys soccer team may have had possession for a little bit longer than Wheeling Park, but the Patriots netted more goals, en route to a 3-1 victory against Steubenville Tuesday eventing on Reno Field inside Harding Stadium.

“We possessed the ball well,” Big Red (2-2-3) head coach Greg Bowers said. “We had more opportunities than we typical do against Wheeling Park. We played a lot more on our end than we typically do. We played some good soccer.

“Once these guys realize the potential in themselves, we will take off and play good soccer. We are upset with the result, but we played pretty good soccer.”

Wheeling Park recorded two goals in the first half and one in the second, en route to coming away with the win.

“Steubenville does a nice job of possessing the ball,” Wheeling Park (4-2) head coach Mario Julian said. “It is a tough match any time you come up to Steubenville. They are well coached. Defensively, they hold their line. They do a good job. They force you to make bad passes.”

Coleman Meredith tallied two goals and an assist to lead the way offensively for the Patriots, while Alex Canestraro contributed a goal and Luke Dunaway delivered an assist.

“Cole has nine goals in six games,” Julian said. “He is doing a real good job. He has scored in every game for us. He plays center-mid. I don’t know many center-mids who have scored as much as he has.”

Dannen Foraker finished with five saves in goal for the visitors.

“They came out in a flat-back four, but they still moved the ball very well,” Bowers said. “They moved it from their outside backs. They were still able to switch fields. They were still able to possess the ball.”

Esteban Serna netted the lone goal for the hosts. Andrew Neely assisted on the goal. J.P. Walsh made five saves in goal.

The game was scoreless for more than 10 minutes before the Patriots found the back of the net for the first time. Dunaway crossed the ball into the penalty box to Meredith, who was able to knock the ball into the net, giving Wheeling Park a 1-0 lead 10:30 into the match.

The score remained that way for more than 27 minutes before the victors found the back of the net for the second time to extend their advantage to 2-0. This time, Meredith crossed the ball into the box to Canestraro, who got a foot on it as it rolled just under a diving Walsh with 2:07 remaining to be played before halftime.

“On the first goal, it was a good cross, and he hit the kid in stride,” Bowers said. “On the second one, Coleman Meredith played a nice ball. We had a lot of nice balls, but we could not finish.”

Wheeling Park had a couple golden opportunities to score a little more than halfway through the second half, but they were unable to extend their advantage.

First, the Patriots were awarded a penalty kick after a foul in the box. However, the PK bounced off the post, keeping the score 2-0 with 18:09 left to play. Then, the victors appeared to tack on another goal 25 seconds later. It was waved off, keeping their advantage at two goals.

Meredith finally managed to increase his team’s lead when he found the back of the net for the second time with 9:38 remaining to make the score 3-0.

“Record-wise, we are where we thought we would be,” Julian said. “We had to replace 18 starters. We won 19 regular season games last year. We have got some young guys. They are stepping up and doing well, but it takes time to mature. I would say we are a little behind schedule in that respect.”

Big Red responded with a goal a little more than a minute later when Serna scored with 8:23 still showing on the clock.

There is a lot of respect between the two coaches and the programs. Bowers and Julian have competed against each other for almost 20 years.

The Patriots are currently ranked fourth in the OVAC Class 5A standings, while Big Red is ranked fifth. The updated standings were released Tuesday afternoon. The cutoff date to qualify for the annual OVAC tournament is Thursday. The loss to Wheeling Park was Big Red’s final match before the cutoff.

UP NEXT

Wheeling Park: Travels to John Marshall at 6 p.m. Thursday.

“The kids are happy to be playing,” Julian said. “They are so happy to be playing.”

Big Red: Travels for a noon contest Saturday at Tuscarawas Valley.

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