Tonight we defeated a very good Wheeling team, and in doing so we showed a great amount of guts and grit. In the opening half hour of the match, Wheeling asserted themselves and controlled most of the play. Our Broncos were forced to defend quite a bit, especially since the Wildcats were winning a majority of the aerial duels and second balls as well. We were out-shot 6-1 in the first half.
As the game wore on, our guys grew into the game and started to see more and more moments of opportunity. In the 56th minute, Zach Carbonara (who had one heckuva game!) leaked out the right flank where Enrico Ruffolo located him. Carbonara skillfully controlled the delivery, and then dropped a right footed bender over the diving Wheeling keeper. It was a terrific finish.
Perhaps due to the energy we had expended in the game defensively, and then to earn that goal, the minutes after we scored saw us falter a bit, allowing Wheeling to score twice in just six minutes. Their equalizer came from a corner kick that found the head of Wheelings #10 at the back post, just six yards off of the end line. Their go-ahead goal was a tremendous one-time strike, from 24 yards. Wheelings #21 absolutely smashed a half volley off of a rebound and left no doubt the instant it left his foot.
With just 17 minutes to play, our Broncos immediately started to step up their energy and did everything they could to work for the tying score. Coach Steib moved Nash Pirie into the midfield, switched to a 1-3-5-2 system and paced the sidelines hoping to add some fuel to the teams efforts. It was clear we would throw everything we had at the Wheeling goal. With just under four minutes remaining in regulation, sophomore Michael Blanke provided the magic we needed. Blanke wriggled his way down the left sideline and slipped past two Wheeling defenders, and then poked a shot through the arms of the Wildcat keeper which caromed off of the far post and into the net. Atta boy Michael!
In overtime, we came out looking like the more energetic side. Four of our nine shots for the game came in the 19 minutes of overtime, the final one being a Klaus Pallan spot kick. The “golden goal” PK ended the match and earned us the 3-2 win! Much credit to Hudson Walsh, who delivered a superb, 35 yard cross into the feet of Caleb Orr, who delicately settled the ball to himself. So much credit also to Orr, for the skill to collect the ball, and the strength to hold off the Wheeling defender, who could only check him from behind and concede the penalty.
Although we didn’t play a complete match, mainly due to the slow start, we did again show a great amount of heart and resiliency. All of the boys gave their all, and Coach Steib heaped praise on the whole squad. Special mention to the leadership and determination shown by senior captain Zach Carbonara, the dashing runs from speed devil Nash Pirie, the skillzy play of Enrico Ruffolo and the consistent defensive work of Josh Coulter. Each of these players had great nights!
BHS – Carbonara, Zach (Enrico Ruffolo) — 56th minute
WHS —- 60th minute
WHS —- 63rd minute
BHS – Blanke, Michael (Nash Pirie) — 76th minute
BHS – Pallan, Klaus PK (Caleb Orr/Hudson Walsh) — 56th minute