GRAFTON—On a cold and dreary Monday evening at McKinney Field, the Taylor County Middle School girls’ and boys’ soccer teams took to the field to host the Bees of East Fairmont in a repeat matchup from earlier this season in Fairmont.
The Knights wore pink socks in honor of breast cancer awareness, and also recognized the match as “A Knight for Keelee Purkey.”
In the first contest, the Lady Knights had multiple shots-on-goal but were unable to secure a score, but on the defensive end, TCMS goalkeeper Jerra Halbritter pitched the shutout for her team which would bring the final score to a 0-0 tie.
Overall, Halbritter saved four shots-on-goal for the Lady Knights, and McKenna Stemple, Jenna Charlton, Taylor Rudy, Madelyn Haddix, and Claire McCarthy were all credited with shots-on-goal on the other end for TCMS.
In the boys’ matchup, the Knights found the back of the net on three separate occasions as they defeated the Bees by the score of 3-0.
The Knights got the scoring started with a beautiful corner by Landen Hulley which was finished with an equally beautiful header by Stratten Wooddell. Justin Gainer made two great saves later in the half to keep the score 1-0 in favor of the Knights. On one of the saves, Gainer smothered a very hard-struck ball, and the other save was a great slide tackle outside of the penalty box.
“I saw Justin coming way out and the attacker was coming very fast,” said TCMS boys’ head coach Travis Uhl. “Justin was outside of the box and could not pick it up. His only choice was the play he made, kicking it away. He just happened to make the perfect slide tackle in order to save a goal.”
The second half scoring started with a beautiful “through ball” by the Knights’ Landen Hulley to teammate Jude Minard. Minard broke away from his defender and found the back of the net to extend the Knights’ lead to two.
“I am not sure exactly what happened,” explained Uhl. “Minard was dribbling into the goal with the defender on his hip. The next thing I see is the goalie and the defender piled up, laying on the turf, and the ball in the back of the net and Jude jogging back. I think Jude just used sheer willpower to get that goal.”
Later in the half, after a hand ball just outside the penalty area, the Knights’ Landen Hulley took the direct kick before East Fairmont had a chance to prepare themselves and found the back of the net.
“I always tell the boys to play smart and that was a smart play,” stated Uhl. “Don’t let the defense set up on you. If you have an opportunity, then you have to take it.”
Another player who stepped in and played a crucial role in the Knights’ win was Colt McVicker.
“Colt McVicker saw his first action in goal,” Uhl finished by saying. “He represented us well, preserving the shut out with two saves.”
The Knights will be back in action on Thursday as they host Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School at McKinney Field in Grafton.
The girls contest will start at 6:00pm, followed by the boys’ match at 7:15 p.m.