Winfield's Preston Sheldon (10) battles Parkersburg's Brandon Decicco.
WINFIELD - Parkersburg is one of those schools that everyone in the state uses as a measuring stick.If Tuesday evening is any indication, Winfield is on the right track.Sophomore Steven Taylor scored two goals to send the Generals past the Big Reds 3-1 for the first time in recent memory. A crowd of about 50 attended the Class AAA matchup of state-ranked boys high school soccer teams.Winfield (9-1), which is third in this week's state coaches association ratings, has lost six times and tied once with the No. 2 Big Reds (7-2-2) since 2008. A couple of weeks ago the Generals pushed top-ranked Hurricane in a 1-0 loss."It's great,'' beamed Taylor from ear to ear. "There's a lot of energy in the locker room. I'm glad we could get that first goal to pump the team up. [The win is] great for confidence. We have a couple of injuries, but we have backups that can perform for us. We can all step up and do a little bit better.'' Taylor gave Winfield a 1-0 lead with 19:59 left in the opening half after junior Hunter Sheldon sent the ball down the sideline to Taylor, who then dribbled toward the left post and deposited the ball into the right-lower corner.Taylor struck again less than five minutes into the second half to put the Generals ahead 2-0 after taking a pass from sophomore Jesse Richmond on a give-and-go pass, dribbling into the box and sending a shot into the goal near the right post.
Parkersburg, though, didn't go down without a fight as senior Garrett Kruger tallied an unassisted goal less than three minutes later to cut the Big Reds' deficit to 2-1. Winfield senior Preston Sheldon shut the door on the victory with an unassisted tally with 24:47 to go in the game to set the final score.Generals junior keeper Bryce Boggs turned in five saves, including several diving stops at point-blank range in the closing minutes."It's just a great win,'' said Winfield coach Mike Foster. "It's been a long time. They kicked our rear end last year 6-1 and 3-0. [Our players] handled this bunch. We couldn't put the passes together like we wanted to [in the first half].
"The ball was dying in the [wet] grass and dying in mud puddles. We had to change our tactics at halftime and start doing more of a long ball and trying to go to the outside wings more and carry the ball to get it up the field. I thought we played great.''Parkersburg junior goalie Reid Strobl made nine saves."They outplayed us,'' said Big Reds coach Don Fosselman. "They played well as a team. We couldn't get the ball out of the defensive midfield. They counterattacked well. We didn't mark anybody. It was just a foot race. All three teams that have given us trouble have done the same thing.'' Foster said Winfield still has a lot more to accomplish."I think it's a great group,'' he said. "I said from the first of the year not to count us out. I like the chemistry. From sophomores to seniors they all pal around together. I like the way they look.
"I've got three Eagle Scouts on this team, I've got three who are going to be Eagle Scouts, I've got a few honor students. You've got guys running 3 miles and pushing themselves. It's just a great group of kids. It's a pleasure coaching them. I just think we've got a good team. If we get the right circumstances and get some good bounces out of the ball, we can go pretty far.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com