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Weir girls soccer team stumbles against Park

OUT IN FRONT — Weir High’s Sophia Aperfine races past Wheeling Park’s Emma Shelek during Thursday’s contest. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

WEIRTON — The Weir High girls soccer team has faced stiff competition the past few weeks in anticipation for the upcoming sectional tournament.

Eventually, head coach Jeremy Angelo had a feeling there would be a slip up at some point, and it came during the Red Riders’ 8-0 defeat to Wheeling Park on Thursday. It was Weir High’s final regular-season home contest.

“That’s what they do. They do everything well,” Angelo said regarding the now 12-2 Patriots. “There were parts of the game where we played with them. But, overall, team to team, they are way better. We’ve played this team, Parkersburg South, University and John Marshall recently. In our last three games, we’ve played two of the top eight teams in Class AAA.

“Out of those games, one of them we’re going to have a bad one. We had the bad one (Thursday). We didn’t play well because we had an off night. They’re just better than us.”

The Red Riders (5-6-3) hung with Wheeling Park through most of the first half despite a 3-0 halftime deficit. Then, the Patriots took over in the second half, scoring three times within the first 5:15 to initiate the running clock.

“First of all, our thoughts and prayers are with (the Red Riders) with their tragedy this season,” said Park coach Carrie Hanna regarding the double homicide of Madison Crowe and Melissa Rowland. “I contacted Jeremy earlier in the week and said we wanted hold our player, No. 3. He said he’s been holding one of his players and have been playing a man down for the first three minutes of the game. We talked to our team about playing in honor, being respectful and classy.

“I’m just really proud of getting to playoff time. We had to keep it sharp and had to be executing our game plan, so we’ve been focused on keeping the same energy and effort. That’s what we need to have for the playoffs.”

Merritt Delk was the Patriots’ biggest contributor, netting a hat trick and an assist. Maya Taggart scored twice, as well as one goal each from Graceylyn Hanna, Audrey Lantz and Adlie Abraham. Graceylyn Hanna produced two assists, while Lantz had one.

“I’ve already been quoted as saying this before, but she’s a freshman who plays like a senior,” coach Hanna said about Delk. “She’s just a pure competitor, very talented and very skilled. She has great physicality and hungrier than anyone I’ve seen before to score goals. She knows when to finish it and when to dish it.”

Josephine Kulpa made six saves in goal for the visitors. Weir High’s Alexis Adams made a dozen.

“When we watch film on this, they’ll come out, giggle and brush it off. It’s harder for me than it is on them,” Angelo said.

TOURNAMENT TIME

Wheeling Park is the top seed for the upcoming Region 1, Section 2 tournament next week. It will most likely face either John Marshall or Brooke in the semifinal.

“I think we sent a statement the other day,” coach Hanna said. “We got a little burned with three minutes left at the end of the game and let Morgantown score two goals. But, we made a statement in the first half, being up 3-0. I feel like I do have the best team.”

As for the Red Riders, they are the No. 2 seed in Region 1, Section 1. They will host the highest seed remaining next Thursday out of the other four teams below them. They automatically will play No. 3 seed Madonna if the Blue Dons are victorious on Monday. Oak Glen is the top seed.

UP NEXT

Wheeling Park: Hosts Grafton at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Weir High: Travels to Wheeling Central for a noon contest on Saturday.

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