Red Riders defeat Big Red

WEIRTON – Every second counts.

Weir senior Alex Hannah converted a penalty kick with 6:21 left to play in the game, and the Red Riders’ insurance goal provided to be needed as the Weir boys soccer team held off a late charge by Big Red as time expired giving the Red Riders a hard-fought 2-1 victory Friday evening at Jimmy Carey Stadium.

“It was a typical Big Red-Weir game,” veteran Weir (2-1) head coach Joe Pepe said. “We needed this game. Big Red is in our (OVAC) division. We knew they were a good team.

“After losing nine seniors from last year’s team, these kids have really stepped up. We have three seniors this year, and the rest are all underclassmen. They are all stepping up.

“We moved the ball. We passed the ball. We did execute when we needed to. We got the job done.”

The victory was No. 255 for Pepe, who is in his 21st season as head coach for the Red Riders.

For Big Red, it was a frustrating game full of missed opportunities.

“Yeah, it was frustrating,” nine-year Big Red (2-1) head coach Greg Bowers said. “We had plenty of opportunities. I didn’t look at the stats yet, but I think we had more chances than Weir.

“Their defense and their goalie played great. They have a talented offense like they always do.”

Freshman Chayton Luevano tallied Weir’s other goal off of an assist by Hannah.

Senior goalie Matt Tengalio made 12 saves for the Red Riders.

Michael Rosaschi recorded the lone goal for Big Red, while John Paul Duff finished with seven saves.

With Weir leading 1-0, the Red Riders were able to get the ball down deep on Big Red’s side of the field on a counterattack. The ball ended up in the penalty box, and a Big Red defender was called for a handball inside the box resulting in a penalty kick.

The foul was called with 6:22 showing on the clock, but the clock was not stopped until Bowers asked the referee to stop it. The referee asked Bowers if he wanted the six seconds added back on to the clock, and the Big Red coach said he did.

Those six seconds almost made a huge difference in the outcome of the game.

Hannah took the penalty kick, and he was able to get his shot into the lower corner of the net past Duff to put the hosts in front, 2-0.

Weir did not hold its two-goal lead for long as Big Red scored to cut its deficit in half a little more than a minute later.

The ball ended up being knocked beyond the end line by the Red Riders resulting in a corner kick for Big Red. The kick came into the penalty box, and it bounced around before Rosachi was able to knock the ball in the net pulling Big Red to within 2-1 with 5:19 left to play.

The goal reenergized Big Red, and they mounted multiple attacks on the Red Riders, but the visitors from Jefferson County were unable to net the equalizer.

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Big Red was able to get one more shot off, but the sailed just over the goal and ended up hitting the crossbar of the uprights before bouncing back as time expired. Without the six added seconds, Big Red would not have been able to get off its last shot of the game.

“We have got to focus and put it away,” Bowers said. “We will get it.

“Sometimes, it is about the shots we don’t get to take because there is not a quality pass, or we don’t make a run. It is the little things, but we will get it.”

The Red Riders had a golden opportunity to take the lead about eight minutes after a wide-open Big Red miss, but Duff robbed Weir of a goal by making a diving save.

The game was scoreless at halftime.

“It is always a tough game. It is always a good game,” said Pepe.

“The kids are stepping up. All of them are. The ones on the field and the ones on the bench, they are all stepping up. I can’t complain. The coaching staff can’t complain.

“Give credit to Big Red. They have a very-good nucleus back. They are a good team. They are a going to be a team to deal with this year.”

“It’s always a good game,” Bowers said. “The kids like to play each other. It was a good, clean game.”

The Red Riders were finally able to break the scoreless tie early in the second half.

Weir was awarded a corner kick, and an unmarked Luevano found a space in front of the goal. Hannah took the kick, and he sent the ball across the field and into the box where Luevano was able to get his head on the ball and past Duff putting the Red Riders out in front, 1-0, with 36:39 left to play in the game.

“It’s always a good game,” Bowers said. “The kids like to play each other. It was a good-clean game.”

Weir has now won two straight games after losing to Fairmont Senior to open the season.

“We had a little letdown against Fairmont Senior,” Pepe said. “I don’t know if it was the bus ride down there. We were nervous. Fairmont Senior beat us last year in the regional finals.

“We play a very good schedule. We play both Fairmont teams. We play Park. We play University. We play Morgantown. We play Parkersburg South. We play a good schedule.

“Kudos to Big Red. They did a nice job. Coach Bowers should be proud of his kids. I am proud of my kids.”

Weir is scheduled to play at 3 p.m. today at Liberty Harrison.

“Matt Tengalio and Alex Hannah are leading the team well,” Pepe said.

Bowers will look for career victory No. 101 when Big Red plays at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Jefferson County rival Indian Creek at Muth Field in Mingo Junction.

“I congratulated Coach Bowers on winning his 100th game,” Pepe said.