Oak Glen rallies to nip Big Red

STEUBENVILLE – The game plan worked to perfection.

Senior Devin Polen netted two unanswered goals to lead the Oak Glen boys’ soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Big Red Saturday afternoon at Harding Stadium.

“It is a great-big win for us,” Oak Glen (3-5) assistant coach Jeff Sayre said. “We have been shorthanded all year. This is the first time our full unit has played together. The kids played hard. They played well together.”

Polen ended up scoring a goal in each half to rally the Golden Bears past Big Red.

“That wasn’t our best effort,” Big Red (6-2) head coach Greg Bowers said. “Scoring has been an issue for us. We did not do a good job of finishing.”

Cullen Bennett and Chris Bailey tallied assists for the Golden Bears.

Dominic DiCarlo recorded the lone goal for Big Red on a penalty kick.

Both teams used two goalies.

Nate Bennett started in goal for Oak Glen. He was briefly replaced in the first half by Dylan Garmire. Nate Bennett quickly returned to the field. He finished the game with five saves. Garmire did not make a save.

John Paul Duff started in goal for Big Red and finished with seven saves. Duff was replaced in the second half by Bryan Brown, who made a save. Duff later came back to play offense for Big Red as the hosts attempted to net the game-tying goal.

“Big Red is a quality team,” Sayre said. “They have some really great athletes on the field. We were able to keep possession of the ball, and we were able to take advantage of our opportunities.”

Big Red got on the scoreboard first when DiCarlo scored on his penalty kick. DiCarlo’s shot into the lower corner of the goal beat Nate Bennett to put Big Red out in front, 1-0, with 13:02 left to play in the first half.

The Golden Bears drew even before halftime

After a foul, Oak Glen was awarded a free kick. The Golden Bears restarted things quickly, and after a couple of passes later Polen was able to get a shot past Duff to tie the score.

As time ticked away in the second half, Big Red pushed forward hoping to score the go-ahead goal, but Nate Bennett and the Golden Bears’ defense was up to the challenge.

With less than 13 minutes left to play, Big Red mounted another attack, but this one was thwarted by Bailey.

Bailey gained possession of the ball, and he was able to make his way down the field. He sent a pass forward to Polen, who was able to get his shot past Duff, who came off of his line to try and break up the play.

Polen’s second goal of the game gave the Golden Bears a 2-1 lead with 12:10 left to play.

“They didn’t do much that we didn’t expect,” Bowers said. “We expected them to sit back. We were a little surprised they had three up front, but we made adjustments.

“We were able to hold the ball. We possessed it. We just couldn’t finish.”

Both teams are scheduled to return to the pitch Monday. Big Red will play at 5 p.m. at John Marshall, while Oak Glen will host Hancock County rival Weir at 7 p.m..

“It’s an inter-county rivalry,” Sayre said.

“Weir is always good. We are looking forward to the game.”