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Watts sets record, Oak Glen girls advance to sectional title game

CLOSING IN — Oak Glen’s Kami Ward attempts a shot past Wheeling Central’s Liz Romanek during Thursday’s Class AA/A Region 1 Section 1 semifinal contest. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

NEW MANCHESTER — This time last year, Oak Glen junior Brooklyn Watts was working as hard as she could to get back on the soccer field after tearing her ACL during travel ball.

Her absence was a big reason why the Golden Bears fell short in the state tournament. Her comeback reached its peak during Thursday’s Class AA/A Region 1 Section 1 semifinal against Wheeling Central.

Watts recorded four assists and a goal during Oak Glen’s 8-0 victory. With those assists, she set the West Virginia single-season record with 35 overall, as well as setting a school record previously held by teammate Brooklyn Loveland, who had 33 a year ago.

“It feels good. I am just glad that I’m able to accomplish it during a comeback season,” Watt said. “I am glad that my teammates are able to finish for me and help me out. I couldn’t do it without them.”

Head coach Ryan Wells witnessed first hand how hard Watts worked to recover and make sure she would not miss any more time. He was at the same rehab facility with an injury of his own.

“That’s just from being an old man, though,” he said laughing. “Just being with her during her rehab sessions, it just blows your mind how hard she was working. It’s tough for a kid who has played soccer her entire life watch her teammates make a state title run, knowing full well she should be out there starting. It’s just great to see her make this comeback.

“We noticed at times last year that the left side was dead. We have five girls now up front that can use both feet. They go and shoot with their left or right foot. What that does is force teams to play straight up. We have faced teams like we did (Thursday) that will pack 11 players on the ball. We really don’t have an option. That’s where the assists come.”

Another Golden Bear on that left side is Kami Ward. On Thursday, she netted a hat trick, her final goal coming on Watts’ record-breaking assist that also closed the scoring.

Also for top-seeded Oak Glen (16-2-1), Reece Enochs scored two more times (now has 47 goals this season) and tallied an assist. Enochs was named the OVAC Class 4A Player of the Year earlier this week.

“We thought her stats this year would carry her to that accomplishment. It’s well deserved,” Wells said. “She’s coming off an first-team all-state selection and a captain from last year. She’s probably going to break her own single-season scoring record. She may have actually broken it already (Thursday).”

Loveland and Tori Alexander scored the other goals. Goalkeeper Alexus Greenlief did not have to record a save, as Wheeling Central had no shots on goal. The Golden Bears collected 17.

The Maroon Knights, who are seeded fourth, earned a spot in the semifinal when they defeated No. 5 seed Tyler Consolidated, 3-0, on Monday.

UP NEXT

Oak Glen: Hosts second-seeded Weir High for the sectional title on Saturday. The start time is TBA. The Red Riders bested Madonna, 4-0, on Thursday.

“It’s going to be emotional for both sides because the girls knew each other so well,” Wells said regarding the death of former Weir High player Madison Crowe. “They’ve played together all the time at Force in Weirton. That’s just how tight Hancock County is to traveling soccer.

“We know that Jeremy (Angelo) is going to have them coached up. When we played them in the regular season, we just played at a high level, and Weir just wasn’t on. That was the difference, and the goals came quickly.”

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