2nd-half goals carry GW boys
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- George Washington could have easily succumbed to frustration Friday, but the Patriots kept their nose to the grindstone and found a way to win.
On a night when GW's shots were just a wee bit off, and when it was on target Riverside senior keeper Austin Ballengee turned in splendid diving saves, Patriots seniors Daniel Glines and Graham Platz steadied the ship with one goal apiece late in the second half for a 2-0 victory. A crowd of about 300 attended the Class AAA boys high school soccer season opener for both teams at Andrew Jordon Field at Trace Fork.
Glines broke the scoreless stalemate and gave the Patriots the lead for good with 10:36 left in the game when he headed in a cross from junior Khegan McLane to finally get one past Ballengee, who finished with nine stops.
McLane sent a pass from outside the box and Glines elevated and flicked the ball just inside the left post, beating a diving Ballengee. Glines' legs started cramping midair and when he came down he immediately crumpled to the turf. Glines couldn't even celebrate his achievement, instead lying on the ground getting stretched out for a few minutes.
Platz followed with a goal less than a minute later with 9:03 to go as GW began to breathe easier.
"It took us awhile to adjust from that packed defense,'' veteran GW coach Tom Hopper said of Riverside's strategy. "I've done that before when my team wasn't as bountiful and make the other team score.
"They certainly did that for what, 70 minutes? [Ballengee] had a whale of a game. He was like a magnet. Everything that was near he got. I thought our guys didn't quit. In that kind of a game, if you can get the first goal it loosens things up.''
GW controlled the game from the outset, launching 11 shots on goal and 13 corner kicks. Riverside, which was pinned down on the Patriots' side of the field, didn't even get a shot off in 80 minutes.
The Patriots have high hopes again this season after losing 1-0 to Parkersburg in the state tournament semifinals last year. GW returns more than half of its starting lineup, but lost its top two goal scorers to graduation.
"I was able to get some guys in I'm counting on to fill some spaces when the time gets tough,'' said Hopper, who guided GW to state championships in 2007 and 2011. "We've got a lot of people that can fill a lot of different [positions] and we'll just figure it out as we go along.''
Riverside coach Amy Miller was overjoyed with her team's resolve.
"I think they're up to any challenge,'' she beamed. "We were really proud of the way they played. I told them there's nothing to be down about. Hopefully, this is a start of a good season for us.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.