Bearcats battle Bucs before taking on #1 Charleston Catholic

GRAFTON—The Grafton High School (GHS) Bearcat Soccer team faced some tough competition, but in true Bearcat fashion, they refused to give up, leaving it all on the field.

On Thursday, the boys headed to Tennerton, to take on the Buccaneers from Buckhannon-Upshur High School (BUHS). In a contest that would see a great deal of back-and-forth action, the Cats made the Bucs work for every goal they earned.

After steady play between the two teams, Bearcat Soccer Head Coach Arthur Knight decided to ramp up the efforts of his team and sought to apply pressure to their defense.

“We kept them pretty much pinned in on their side of the pitch,” said Assistant Coach Jack Wolverton.

As with many matchups before, the Cats would be the first on the board, when Layne England found Jude Minard for a Bearcat goal, putting GHS up 1-0 at the 23-minute mark. 

That goal was followed up with another by Minard just seven minutes later, increasing the Cats’ lead 2-0, a score that would stand going into halftime.

Ready to continue their attack, Grafton came out after the half ready to defend their goal and move the ball down the field. The score stood changeless until the eight-minute mark, when Spencer Copeland found the back of the net, making the score 3-0 in favor of GHS.

With a comfortable lead, the Cats relaxed their defenses, and the Bucs would capitalize on the mistake. At the 13-minute mark, Buckhannon-Upshur made a move on the goal, and was able to send their ball past the keeper, getting in the board 3-1.

Again, the next nearly 20 minutes of play saw a great deal of back-and-forth action, with neither team being able to find the back of the net. That was until the 32-minute mark, when the Bucs snuck another goal past Grafton, bringing them with one score.

Standing at 3-2, Grafton knew they had to work to keep the BUHS out of scoring range, and they held tight to their lead as the final whistle sounded.

“We were able to hold them off and walked out of there with a win against a very solid AAA team,” Wolverton noted.

If meeting up with the Bucs wasn’t enough competition, the Bearcats then welcomed the #1 state-ranked and #18 nationally ranked Charleston Catholic Irish to McKinney Field on Saturday.

“We knew coming into this game that we would have a tough job ahead of us,” shared Coach Knight.

The Cats were ready to defend their turf, and as play got underway, both teams saw numerous possessions and shots on goal. However, just six minutes into the match, the Irish found the net.

With a fighting spirit, England was quick to respond, putting pressure on the Catholic keeper. In a quick move, he ricocheted the ball into the goal, to tie the score at 1-1.

At the 23-minute mark, Charleston Catholic once again found the net, this time off of a volley, and four minutes later, they would once again claim a goal through great passing techniques.

Up three to one, the Bearcats knew they had to decrease Catholic’s lead, and they did just that at the 13-minute mark when England chipped the ball over the head of the Irish keeper, to Minard, who was ready and waiting to sink it into the net, bringing the score to 3-2, in favor of Charleston Catholic.

The excitement of the goal was short-lived, as just 25 seconds later, Catholic answered with a score of their own. Entering halftime, the Cats were trailing 4-2.

After an exciting first half of play, both teams hit the turf ready for more action, but the second half would prove difficult for the Cats, as Catholic would tack on three more goals to Grafton’s one.

Just three minutes into play, the Irish scored their fifth goal of the contest, and at the 11 and 18-minute marks, they were able to find the back of the net yet again.

The Cats refused to give up, and at the 10-minute mark, after being fouled in the box, Copeland was awarded a penalty kick. His initial launch was stopped by the Irish keeper, but Copeland quickly responded by heading the ball into the goal, bringing the score to 7-3 in favor of the Irish.

“We had a few more chances, but we just couldn’t find another goal,” Wolverton voiced. “The final score was in favor of the #1 team in the state. But I am so proud of our guys. They never hung their heads, and they hustled the whole time!”

The Bearcats were back in action last night, as they welcomed the AAA powerhouse Bridgeport Indians to the turf at McKinney Field.


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