Bearcats prepare for sectional play, finishing out their regular season

Photo courtesy of Heather England

GRAFTON—The Grafton High School (GHS) Boys Soccer Team is gearing up for sectional play, coming off of some exciting games for the Bearcats.

The Cats met up with the Flying Eagles of Robert C. Byrd (RCB) High School, in Big 10 action.

From the sound of the first whistle, the Bearcats maintained the bulk of possession in the first half of the game and were able to take a few shots on goal. However, the boys just couldn’t connect with the back of the net.

The Eagles offense made their move at the 7-minute mark, taking advantage of a Bearcat defensive breakdown, and found themselves up 1-0.

That score carried into halftime, but the Bearcats were determined to get on the board in the second.

The Cats continued to determine the pace of play during the second half, maintaining most of the possession throughout. Unfortunately, the Eagle defense proved to be too much for GHS, and when the final whistle blew, RCB walked away victorious with a score of 1-0.

“Our midfield controlled the majority of the game, and our defense held Byrd to just two shots on goal, both in the first half,” shared Assistant Coach Jack Wolverton. “The Bearcats were definitely the better team; we simply had a breakdown that cost us the game. We are counting on playing RCB again to get some revenge!”

 Looking to improve their record, the Cats then traveled to Shinnston to meet up with the Lincoln High School team, in a game that would have Bearcat fans celebrating as they shut out the Cougars 6-0.

Through continued possession and controlled passing, the Bearcats found themselves on the board early, as Landen Hulley sent the ball past the Cougar Keeper just four minutes into action.

Two minutes later, the Cats found themselves in perfect position to score again, when Adrian Joyce was fouled in the box, giving GHS a penalty kick that found the back of the net off the foot of Zach Nibert, bringing the score to 2-0.

A pass from Jude Minard to Spencer Copeland proved beneficial for the Bearcats, as it resulted in another made goal at the 12-minute mark.

At the 29-minute mark of action, Hulley found Marcus Carder, who was ready to take his shot, and sent the ball into the back of the net, claiming another Bearcat goal, brining the score to 4-0 in favor of the Cats.

GHS continued to dominate play throughout the remainder of the first half, and with four minutes left on the clock, Bryce Kelly, off an assist from Ethan Weaver, sent the ball past the Cougar Keeper.

The Cats entered halftime with a 5-0 lead over Lincoln.

The second half of play saw plenty of substitutions on the Grafton side of the ball, as the Bearcats continued to control possession.

With 12 minutes left in the game, the Cats claimed their final goal off the foot of Levi Miller, a three-year starter until an off-season injury substantially limited his play this season. Miller’s score was his first Bearcat goal.

The Cats were able to keep the Cougars from finding the back of the net, and at the final whistle the score stood in favor of GHS 6-0.

“Overall, we kept our shape and passed the ball well,” Wolverton expressed. “We were solid from back to front, and it was nice to get the younger players a good deal of field minutes.”

Coming off of the lopsided victory over Lincoln, the Bearcats took to the turf of McKinney Field on Saturday to welcome the Wheeling Central Catholic Maroon Knights.

The Cats were presented with some shots on goal early in the game, and six minutes into action, Colton Sanders found an open Hulley, who, from 35-yards out, placed a nice shot past the Knight Keeper, putting GHS on the board 1-0.

That would be the only goal made during the half, and then Cats entered halftime with the 1-0 lead.

The second half of play opened with multiple opportunities for the Bearcats to lengthen their lead. It wouldn’t be until the 21-minute mark of action that GHS would put more points on the board.

With skilled footwork and a few lively moves, Hulley made his way through the Knight defense and placed a hard shot around the Knight Keeper, bringing the score to 2-0.

Great teamwork and passing would once again prove fruitful for the Cats, when with a little over four minutes left in play, Copeland passed off to Joyce who was able to find the back of the net, lengthening the lead 3-0 over the Knights.

The score carried into the final whistle, and Grafton once again walked off of McKinney Field victorious.

“The Bearcat Defense held strong and didn’t allow a shot on goal by the Knight’s,” Wolverton revealed. “Our midfield controlled the match and gave a few quality scoring opportunities to the Bearcat forwards during the match.” 

Sitting at an impressive 11-4-4 overall record, the GHS Bearcat Soccer program tied for third place in the Big 10.

With the regular season concluded, the Bearcats will enter sectional play on Thursday at home against the Lincoln Cougars. The game is set to begin at 6:00 p.m.

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