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Weir boys advance past Oak Glen to sectional final

CLOSE CALL — Weir High’s Antonio Pittman shoots while teammate Hunter Hildreth and Oak Glen goalkeeper Jacob Clark, Trintan Lawson, left, and Mason Konchar watch during Thursday’s Class AA/A Region 1 Section 1 semifinal. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

NEW MANCHESTER — Whether Weir High head coach Matt Kopp was playing or coaching soccer, Oak Glen’s Jacob Clark is the best goalkeeper he has ever seen.

He knows any time his Red Riders face the Golden Bears, it is going to be tough to come out on top. Clark is the reigning two-time OVAC Class 4A Player of the Year after all.

Despite that, Kopp’s players found something deep inside of them and took advantage of the situation, winning 3-0 in a Class AA/A Region 1 Section 1 semifinal on Thursday.

“At halftime, I told them, ‘I can sit here and tell you that you’re the better team and tell that you look better because you do. But, at the end of the day, they’ve had more chances than you. It doesn’t matter if you have 70 percent possession because if they put the ball in, it’s over,'” Kopp said. “I went to (Oak Glen coach Jaison Polly) at halftime and said, ‘How did you not put two or three goals in the net?'”

Shots have to be earned against Clark, and No. 3 seed Weir High (7-10) did exactly that. Following a scoreless halftime, Jacob Morgan put his team on the board at the 37:59 mark in the second. He forced Clark to meet him around the 10-yard line, snuck the ball past him and just reached the inside of the left corner. That goal was assisted by Michael Iafrate.

Later on at the 30:18 mark, Antonio Pittman caught Clark in no-man’s land. With Clark leaping high, Pittman spun around him and had a wide-open look that he took full advantage of. Alex Orris was credited with the assist.

Weir High capped the scoring with 8:58 remaining when Pittman scored again, with an assist from Dominic Guiddy.

Shortly before Pittman’s first goal, second-seeded Oak Glen (8-11) missed on a direct kick and a follow-up shot. That was not the only time the Golden Bears missed on a direct kick.

“That’s been the story of our season — getting there but unable to get a goal,” Polly said. “We left a lot of goals out there this season, and we definitely left a lot out there tonight.

“We changed our formation, and we were loose in the middle of the field. We switched back to our original formation whenever we started generating more chances late in the game, but it was too late by that time. Once you go down a goal, it takes something out of the players.”

Oak Glen bested Weir High, 4-3, on Sept. 14.

“We were in the heat of the season that day. We played like four games in a matter of a few days,” Kopp said. “It was a rough point of the season. Also, when we played teams like Wheeling Park in the last few games of the season, I’ve seen better soccer from them. It’s been building for a couple of weeks that we were getting it back. And, people are just starting to step up.

“I’ve said it the last time, and I’ll say it again. I’m still shocked that we scored three goals on Jacob Clark. He’s the best goalie I’ve seen since I’ve coached or played here.”

Thursday concluded Clark’s soccer career at Oak Glen, along with senior Tristan Lawson.

“That speaks for itself,” Polly said regarding Clark’s POY honor. “The kid is unbelievable on and off the field. He’s just 100 percent an amazing athlete, and it definitely was very emotional in the locker room with him.”

Clark finished Thursday with four saves. Jonathan Howard recorded nine for Weir High, which is just a tad higher than his season average.

UP NEXT

Weir High: Travels to face top-seeded Wheeling Central a 6 p.m. Saturday. The Maroon Knights defeated Trinity, 3-1, on Thursday.

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