PARKERSBURG - A senior foursome of Zac Wilcoxen, Tyler Broadwater,. Garrett Kruger and Cameron Morris were the primary catalysts in Parkersburg's 2-0 West Virginia Class AAA boys' sectional soccer championship victory against visiting Wheeling Park on Wednesday night at Stadium Field.
The victory, with keeper Reid Strobl shutting out the Patriots, propelled the Big Reds (15-3-4) into the Region I final with a trip to the state tournament in Beckley on the line.
And PHS will be at home again a week from today for the regional showdown against the winner of tonight's University-Morgantown sectional final.
Both Park, finishing its season with an 11-8-3 record, and the Big Reds were on the attack right from the start Wednesday. Strobl made a pair of key saves to keep the match scoreless until Kruger drilled the ball into the right corner of the net from nearly 25 yards out slightly to the left at the 21:50 mark of the first half for a 1-0 lead.
Then less than a minute into the second half at 39:08, Morris, off an assist from Broadwater, fired a bullet past the diving Park keeper from 25 yards out right in front of the goal to make it 2-0.
''Before the game, we talked about that 'you've got to play for something, but the most important thing is play for your seniors - they're the guys who have got you where you are right now,'' Parkersburg coach Don Fosselman said. ''Broadwater, Wilcoxen, Morris and Kruger - those four, they're the heart of this team. And they played their hearts out (Wednesday)''
The Big Reds had beaten the Patriots ironically by the same 2-0 score on the same field on Aug. 18 at the start of the season.
Fosselman, who won his 23rd sectional title in his 25 years at the Big Reds soccer helm, knew that the Partiots would be a formidable foe.
''They're a good team and (head coach) Mario (Julian) is such a good coach who does a great job - he got the most out of his team,'' Fosselman said.
''But I'm proud of my kids and the way they stepped up. We play really good as a team, but have to work really hard for what we get.''
And what that's gotten the Big Reds to at this juncture of the season, which is one victory from away from a state-tournament berth.