MORGANTOWN — Two of the top teams in West Virginia boys high school soccer faced off for the Class AAA Region 1 Section 1 championship on Thursday evening at Pony Lewis Field as the Morganton Mohigans (16-4-1) met the Wheeling Park Patriots (17-4-1).
Mohigan senior Joel Beeson scored the lone goal of the match in the second overtime to help his team defeat the Patriots to advance to the Region 1 title game with a shot at the state tournament.
“Wheeling Park is an incredible team who are so strong all over the field,” MHS head coach Sam Snyder said. “I’m proud of our effort tonight to shut them out and keep a zero on the scoreboard. We knew we just had to hang tough, it’s the playoffs after all. We knew what the curcumstances were and who else but a senior that has played in a state championship to finihs it off and earn that moment.”
The opening half didn’t see any goals but did see plenty of action as the pace of play was quick from the opening whistle. The Patriots’ best chance of the first half came from one of the many corners that they had during the match, as junior forward Tresz Mcleod rose to meet the ball but his headed effort met the crossbar.
The Mohigans nearly found the opening goal midway through the first half when striker Alex Gonzalez fired a shot on goal that took an outstanding effort from WP keeper Gavin Border to save with his right foot. That play was followed by another chance as a bouncing ball rolled across the face of goal but wasn’t touched by anyone.
The second half opened matching the pace of the first, with each team pushing hard to find the go-ahead goal. Both teams saw multiple chances to score throughout the half but both solid defense and quality goalkeeping kept the match deadlocked without a score. It would take more than the 80 minutes of regulation to find a winner between the two evenly-matched teams.
There are no draws in the playoffs, so a winner had to be decided in the match and two periods of 10 minutes were played for overtime with the first goal scored deciding the winner in golden goal.
After a scoreless first OT, the match nearly seemed destined to remain scoreless until Beeson found the ball at his feet at the top the the box. He worked the ball to his left foot and fired a shot into the left corner of the net, giving the Mohigans a 1-0 victory over Wheeling Park for the Region 1 Section 1 title.
“I think the ball was coming in from a cross and when it bounced to me all I thought about was winning,” Beeson said. “I saw the ball go into the back of the net and it felt unreal. I almost couldn’t believe it went in.”
MHS will advance to the Region 1 championship against crosstown rival University for another Mohawk Derby on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 5 p.m. at Brooke High School. The winner will advance to the state tournament as the Region 1 champions.