Weir boys lose close matchup

WHEELING — Wheeling Central took a major step forward on Saturday.

For the first time in the three-year tenure of head coach Brian Komoroski, the Maroon Knights defeated Weir by a 2-1 count at the 16th Street Field.

The Red Riders (2-4) ended the Knights’ season a year ago with a 1-0 win in the sectional final, so securing this win was a great feeling for Central (5-1).

“This is a big monkey off our backs,” Komoroski said. “It’s been a long time since Wheeling Central beat Weir. It’s probably five, six or seven years since we beat them. We are stepping in the right direction.

“We’ve improved and feel we are better than we were last year. We knew we could play with them coming in and in previous years we haven’t. We basically looked at their formation and tried to man up with it. We also tried to have good counter attacks, which we did.”

Following the match, even Riders’ coach Matthew Kopp took notice of the improvements made by the opposition.

“They have gotten a lot stronger than they have been in recent years,” Kopp said. “They were young but have gotten older now. It was an evenly-matched game and sectionals are going to be a lot more competitive this year than it has been in a long time.”

The Knights struck first at the 13-minute mark when Thomas Minor swiped the ball away from the Riders at midfield and sent it along down the middle to teammate Jacob Estep, who fired a shot into the cage for the 1-0 edge.

Just over nine minutes later, Weir knotted the match as Jacob Warrick rebounded his own missed shot and found the back of the net the second time around. Jericho Givens garnered the assist on the play.

With the match deadlocked late in the first half, senior Angelo Gentile delivered what proved to be the game-winning goal.

Estep kicked off the play by gathering possession and sending a cross pass to Gentile, who finished on the other end to give Central the 2-1 advantage at the 33-minute mark of the first.

“Estep gave him a great cross pass and Gentile just came over and backdoor slid and hit it in,” Komoroski said. “It was just a matter of crashing the net and finishing it.”

Both defenses stepped up in the second half as neither offense could manage to score.

Wheeling Central goalkeeper David Agcaoili was a big reason why. The senior finished with nine saves, made crucial saves in the final moments of the match and made a spectacular leaping, one-handed save midway through the first half.

“David did a great job when he needed to,” Komoroski said. “He came up with some really big saves for us there at the end. Our defense played well, and our two defensive center-mids did very well marking up their center-mids. We just played a solid game.”

Weir goalkeeper Skylar Jackson tallied three saves, while the Riders’ offense outshot the Knights 10-5.

“I think we controlled most of the game,” Kopp said. “I feel we were the better team, but we just made a few mistakes that let us down. We didn’t capitalize on our own chances in the end.

“When we see them again, we are hoping for a better result.”

That next match could very well come in the sectional finals, where both teams will be eager to take the field.

“It’s going to come down in October again, and that’s what we want,” Komoroski said. “This was a great game by both teams and a 2-1 result is exactly what we wanted.”