GALLIPOLIS, Ohio. — Another clean sheet for the Black Knights.
The Point Pleasant boys varsity soccer team improved its mark to 4-0 this season following an 8-0 victory over host Ohio Valley Christian on Monday night in a non-conference matchup in Gallia County.
The visiting Black Knights (4-0) scored four goals in the first half en route to the shutout win. The victory serves as the third shutout in four matches for the Red and Black, as well as the second straight contest without allowing a goal.
The game also served as the season opener for OVCS (0-1), playing in its first contest since the 2016 campaign following a season without fielding a program.
Braxton Watkins-Lovejoy recorded the first goal of the contest at the 34:22 mark of the first half en route to a hat trick.
Adam Veroski added two goals, while Garrett Hatten, Alberto Castillo and Isaiah Snyder provided one goal apiece, respectively.
Kaydean Eta and Jayden Reed each provided an assist as Point Pleasant outshot the Defenders by a sizable 35-7 overall margin and also claimed a 6-0 edge in corner kicks.
OVCS goalkeeper Conner Walter finished with five saves in the contest, while PPHS junior Nick Smith saved seven — including a penalty kick opportunity by the Defenders with 7:57 remaining in the first half.
Following the game, PPHS head coach was pleased with his club’s performance — but noted the team’s low tempo in the first half.
“We came out really lackadaisical in the first half,” Wood said. “We didn’t play up to our potential. We discussed it at half time with the boys and they came out much better and played with a lot more energy and a greater sense of urgency in the second half. I know we were up 4-0 at halftime, but it just seemed like we were struggling to put anything together.
“We played strong in the second half and were much better. I was proud of them for responding at halftime. Right now our strengths are the central portion of the field. We are able to control things with our forwards and midfielders. I feel like our strength is up the middle and getting forward. Defensively, we have to be way more solid than we were in the first half. I think going forward we have to improve things on the outside and on the wings.”
For OVCS head coach Jason Beaver, the setback was a learning opportunity for his young club.
“For as young as this team is they did a really good job despite the score,” Beaver said. “Our goalkeeper had a lot to deal with, but I think he did well with what he was faced with. As a whole, our team has a lot of practice to do on containment defense, we have to be able to break down and work on our passing.
“We have to take this and teach on this and use this as a learning tool and not a negative. We need to move on from this experience and focus on our next game.”
While the Defenders’ return to the soccer pitch for the first time since 2016 was not an ideal outcome for the club, Beaver was happy for his players to be back for the 2018 campaign.
“It’s huge for Ohio Valley Christian soccer to be back on the field,” Beaver said. “After not having a team, we are excited to be back. We do have a learning curve. We are going to have to overcome that, but I’m very proud of where we stand. We have a group of kids here that have a lot of heart and want to play. I feel like we fight hard for what we have out there. We just have to take it one game at a time.”
With the shutout victory, the Black Knights have combined to outscore their opponents 27-1 through four games.
PPHS returns to action on Wednesday when it hosts Gallia Academy, while OVCS next faces Belpre on Thursday at home.
Scott Jones can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext 2106.