Clark saves, Polly kicks Oak Glen boys soccer team over Weir
WEIRTON — Jacob Clark, who is only one of two seniors on the Oak Glen boys soccer team, showed Monday evening why he is one of the best goalkeepers in West Virginia.
With eight seconds remaining, he helped preserve a 4-3 road victory over rival Weir High after blocking a shot from Christian Flannigan, who broke free down the middle.
“On the field, you can see his size and ability, and he’s just a natural at the game,” Oak Glen head coach Jaison Polly said. “Off the field, he’s a tremendous young man and a true leader of this team. He’s a great kid. I’m interested to see his career moving forward.”
Clark finished with 14 saves. He did let three get past him, but the Red Riders (3-2) put pressure on the Golden Bears (3-2) after falling behind, 3-0, in the first half.
“He’s all-state for sure. He was the best keeper we played against last year,” Weir High head coach Matt Kopp said. “If you told me earlier that we would come in and score three goals on Jacob Clark, I wouldn’t believe it. He’s easily one of the best goalies in the state.”
Stephon Polly, Andrew Giambroni and Tenton Richmond, who also had an assist, scored for Oak Glen in the first half. The Red Riders were able to score twice before the end of the half and trailed, 3-2. Goals came from Hunter Hildreth and Antonio Pittman.
In the second half, Weir High possessed the ball more times than not and finally broke through with 14:15 remaining. James Littleton, who had an assist earlier, tied the score.
Roughly four minutes later, Stephon Polly had the most impressive shot of the night. The sophomore was on the right side of the 20-yard line and found the left side of the back of the net to give Oak Glen the 4-3 advantage.
“It was a heck of a kick,” coach Polly said. “Any time a goal goes in for us, especially in a tied game that late, it’s big. We definitely needed it, and it gave us the fight we needed because we started to tire out. You can see the fatigue setting in.”
The remaining 10 minutes saw the Red Riders mainly in possession. They had a few opportunities with less than two minutes left, but Clark was up for the challenge.
“We’re obviously disappointed in the result, but at the end of it, I told the boys that I would rather see us lose a game like this than the way we played Big Red and win,” Kopp said. “They had fire (Monday) and acted like a team. They played like a team. It didn’t all come together, especially early, but we can build off of that. I saw a Weir High soccer team again tonight to be honest.”
Jonathan Howard made three saves for Weir High. John Wansack later replaced him and made one. Jacob Morgan and Flannigan had one assist each.
While the Red Riders are still finding their identity in many ways, the Golden Bears think they know theirs even after just five games.
“We are young and have heart,” coach Polly said. “This is probably one of the best teams I’ve ever coached. The fact that they’re so young, they’re proving to teams that they can play the game, and they will fight through. We only have two seniors and showed a ton of freshmen that we started tonight. The heart and attitudes of these players is what makes this team special.”
Monday marked Weir High’s home opener, and it wasted no time with honoring its nine seniors because of the coronavirus pandemic. They are Jared Bowe, Joe Iafrate, Littleton, Ulfur Jonnson, Brendon Carpenter, Hunter Dodson, Joshua Mossor, Brayden Lawton and Howard.
“This is only my second senior group since I’ve been here. Last year was my first that I’ve had the seniors since they were freshmen,” Kopp said. “They’ve come a long way, and a lot of them have stuck it out throughout. I’ve never heard any complaints from any of them. They’re all team players, and I think they’re taking it in stride that we need to build for the future.”
Oak Glen: Travels to St. Clairsville today.
Weir High: Travels to Brooke today.