WHEELING - On paper Thursday's high school soccer match between Wheeling Park and John Marshall's boys looked like a mismatch. While the Monarchs were able to do just enough to keep the talented Patriots (8-1-2) off the board for the first 10 minutes of play, things took an expected turn the remainder of the contest.
Senior Zach Marra recorded a hat trick in a five-minute span of the first half as powerful Wheeling Park found the back of the net a whopping seven times in the opening 40 minutes of play en route to an 8-0 drubbing of John Marshall (1-10) at Wheeling Island Stadium.
"We have had a very demanding schedule, so it is nice to have a game where you can get all of your kids in and look at some things," Park coach Mario Julian said. "The kids are due for a little bit of a break and they will get it in the second half of the season after this weekend."
After numerous trips deep inside the John Marshall end didn't produce any goals the initial 10 minutes of play, Marra took over and started knocking goals in.
Marra's first came at 29:22 on a steal on the Monarchs side of the field and an assist from classmate Eric Bonar. A little more than a minute later Marra picked up a loose ball 5 yards in front of the net and blasted it in for a 2-0 margin.
His third goal during the barrage came on a rebounded shot from deep in the box at the 24:22 mark to make it a quick 3-0 tally.
Along with Marra, Stanley Czahoroski, Zach Vanhorn, Landon Irwin and Bonar all found the net in the first half while Artu Butov scored late in the contest for the final.
"You always know that John Marshall is going to play hard no matter what," Julian added. "They have a good bunch of players and give them an awful lot of credit, they came out and played in the second half and were very competitive.
"It was nice that the younger kids got to get on the field and they did a good job with their composure while they were out there. I think our passing was again at a high level also, and that is something that is a priority for us."
As for John Marshall, coach Jesus Marin, he knew that his kids were going to have an uphill climb, but he was more than happy with the effort.
"It's a numbers game and we are down to 14 players," Marin said. "But we still need to work on some things and the biggest is making more passes. When you play a great team like Wheeling Park you go out and you do what you can. We tried our best, but there really wasn't much more we could do.
"We just need to continue to learn."
The Patriots spent the majority of the second half shuttling in younger players and working on their passing skills while playing keep away from the Monarchs. While Park had 18 shots on the net, John Marshall was not credited with a shot in the contest.