POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — According to the law of averages, this 13 was unprecedentedly unlucky.
Braxton Vanscoy scored a pair of goals in each half, allowing visiting Winfield to become the first road team to win at Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field this fall while cruising to a 4-0 victory over the Point Pleasant boys soccer team in the Class AA-A Region IV championship match Tuesday night in Mason County.
The host Big Blacks (13-4-5) had their 8-game winning streak come to a halt as the Generals (19-1-4) produced three times as many shot attempts by night’s end, including a quartet of goals from Vanscoy — three of which were unassisted.
The Green and White — the Section 2 champions — claimed a favorable 5-2 edge in shots in the opening half of play, and that pace allowed the guests to build a 2-0 lead entering the intermission.
“They played a much quicker game than what we had anticipated. We scouted them a couple of times, and the pace that we saw tonight was not what we saw,” PPHS coach Chip Wood said afterwards. “We had some moments and some opportunities that didn’t pan out, and we did what we wanted to do and what we’ve done over the last eight games of the season. Unfortunately, they were just perfect in front of our goal. They finished everything when they had chances and we just didn’t have a counter for that tonight.”
Vanscoy split two defenders in front of the goal and unleashed a point blank shot that successfully found the net at the 28:56 mark, giving WHS a permanent lead of 1-0.
The Red and Black followed with a missed chance as Adam Veroski sailed a shot from in front high in the 26th minute, easily Point’s best shot attempt of the opening 40 minutes.
Winfield answered as Jackson Zulauf hit Vanscoy in stride with a pass in the 32nd minute, and Vanscoy caught the pass in front before firing away from point blank range for a 2-goal cushion just before the break.
Vanscoy’s hat trick came in the 46th minute after tracking down a pass 10 yards out, then he made a move to his right before temporarily losing control of the ball.
Vanscoy outran two defenders to the free ball and somehow gathered possession long enough to rip off a shot — which ultimately found the net for a 3-0 advantage.
The final Vanscoy goal came in the 58th minute as he hauled in a goalie deflection and made a touch right, then fired back to the left side from inside 10 yards for a 4-goal lead with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Vanscoy did miss a chance at a fifth goal after firing wide right on a penalty kick with 13:18 left in regulation.
The Generals outshot the hosts on goal by a 9-3 overall margin and also had seven of the nine corner kicks in the contest. The Black Knights were whistled for 11 of the 20 fouls, plus both teams received a yellow card apiece.
Nick Smith made six saves in net for the hosts, while Nathan Lanham secured the shutout for Winfield with three stops.
Wood noted that the better team won on this night and that the setback didn’t diminish anything that happened this fall, but the fourth year mentor was still bummed by the final outcome.
He was, however, pleased with the way the community rallied around his troops on Tuesday night.
“It’s disappointing in a way because our goal coming into the year was to play 25 games, which would have put us in the state final. It’s good that we won the (Region IV) Section 1 plaque and it’s good that we are one of the last eight teams playing in our division, but it’s frustrating to know that we really never were in this game on the scoreboard. We were in the game on the field, just not on the scoreboard.
“Now, I do want to thank the crowd and community for coming out and supporting these boys. It was a proud moment to see how much support we had out there on the field with us.”
It was the final soccer match for seniors Kaydean Eta, Garrett Hatten, Peyton Hughes, Zach Rediger, Nick Smith, Isaiah Snyder and Cohen Yates, as well as exchange student Sondre Folvik.
Wood noted that those eight young men, especially the seniors, are leaving the program in a much better shape than where it was four years ago when they started.
And, as the venerable mentor pointed out, those upperclassmen have been ideal mentors for the other 20-plus members of this program set to return.
“Those seniors are one win shy of 50 for their careers. That’s something that has happened only seven or eight times in program history, so these guys have obviously left their mark with some of the best in our school. These guys have played a key role in getting this program back into this spot,” Wood said. “They’ve been good role models for this group and hopefully our younger guys will understand what it takes to get to this level. We’ll try and pick up next year where we left off this year.”
Point Pleasant finishes the season with a 9-1-3 overall mark at home.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.