George Washington's Caleb Barnette (white shirt) tries to score on a corner kick as Elkins players (from left) Cord Elmer, Ryan Henson, Dalton Bobess and keeper Tyler Gray defend.
You're not always going to paint a Picasso, and so it was with George Washington on Saturday afternoon.
Noah Miller scored on an assist from Clay Thomas in the opening half and the Class AAA defending state champion Patriots made it stand up for a 1-0 victory over Elkins. A crowd of about 50 attended the matchup of boys high school soccer teams in sweltering conditions at Schoenbaum Soccer Stadium in Coonskin Park.
The biggest reason for the Patriots' inability to put away the Tigers (2-2-1) was Elkins keeper Greg Tyler, who turned in seven saves, several of the spectacular variety.
"It seems like sometimes you play a game and the keeper has the game of his life,'' said GW coach Tom Hopper, whose team improved to 3-0. "We did what it took to win, but beyond that it wasn't very pretty. I think the heat took a toll on the guys. A win's a win. We'll chalk it up and forget about it.''
Thomas carried the ball down the right side then made a back-heel pass to himself, turned and played the ball to Miller in the middle of the penalty-box area. Miller sent a clear shot into the lower left of the net as the Patriots took a 1-0 lead with 18:54 left in the first half.
GW's Daniel Glines apparently scored from about 30 yards out as time expired, but the officials ruled the shot didn't cross the goal line before time ran out and disallowed the goal.
"There wasn't much we could do,'' Hopper said. "We had the opportunities to score and we just didn't. I think we played about as well as we've been playing.''
Elkins' Jacob Schoonover put a shot on goal early in the opening half but it hit off the crossbar. That was the only shot on goal the GW defense allowed.
"We did all right,'' said Elkins coach Andy Montgomery, who lost nine seniors and two exchange students from last year's team. "We're not a very good offensive team. We don't get many chances. GW gave us all we could handle, but defensively we shut them down, too.
"Their one goal was a breakdown in the midfield and credit them for continuing. That one play they didn't give up. That's good team ball. We just couldn't react to that speed on that particular play. We're pleased with this. I know GW probably thinks they should have done a little more, but there are times when the Italians win by playing defense all the time.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com