MORGANTOWN – Clinging to a 2-1 halftime lead, College Excessive Faculty boys’ soccer coach Michael Smith was left questioning precisely the place his group’s collective heads had been on Tuesday night time.
“Tonight, I found out that we wanted to take away our head from a sure space,” Smith mentioned of his group. “I used to be not good at halftime, and so they responded. I informed them on the finish that I used to be happy with the best way they responded. It’s a disgrace it took us 40 minutes to get up.”
The Hawks (11-8-1) put collectively a stable second half on the best way to an 8-2 victory over visiting Preston within the Class AAA sectional semifinals. College is now 7-1-1 in its final 9 video games after a 4-7 begin to the season.
“Our schedule was actually powerful to start out the season,” senior captain Daniel Kaddar mentioned. “We began on a three-hour journey to Musselman, and it took us a short while to get comfy and taking part in video games and we misplaced plenty of starters from final 12 months. We’ve gotten it collectively now.”
College definitely obtained it collectively on Tuesday. The Hawks scored first with 34:41 left within the first half when Nate Lindsey scored off a nook kick. Nevertheless, the Knights proved pesky as they tied the rating, 1-1, with 9:33 left within the half when Cordell Ayers collected a unfastened ball at midfield and broke away from the UHS protection after which completed with a purpose to the decrease proper nook.
“If we had a pair extra of these, it might have positively been a unique recreation,” Preston head coach Josh Russell mentioned. “If we had not given up that second purpose proper in direction of the tip of the primary half, I believe it might have been a unique recreation.”
UHS did certainly seize slightly momentum with 3:12 left within the first half when Davion Huckaby put dwelling a purpose after it rebounded off the PHS goalkeeper.
After Smith’s halftime changes, the Hawks poured it on within the second half. Colin Carey and Brady Grubb every scored one purpose whereas Alex Maldonado added two whereas Brayan Hernandez weaved via visitors for 2 extra scores.
“We tinkered with our formation slightly bit,” Smith mentioned of the success his group has had within the final 9 video games. “I believe we discovered some issues out about ourselves, and we’ve achieved plenty of movie research. I believe now we have come to a degree the place we’re the place we must be.”
Preston added one other purpose on a breakaway when Jacob Williams obtained unfastened previous the UHS protection and scored previous the drawn-out UHS keeper.
Russell mentioned he was happy with the progress his group has made via the season. The Knights (4-13-3) lose simply six seniors from this roster and now have had 4 years below Russell’s tutelage.
“That report doesn’t point out simply how robust of a group we’re,” Russell mentioned. “We’ve got performed a number of the finest groups within the state together with UHS.”
Smith mentioned he was impressed with the Preston group this season and the Knights did handle to attain two targets in a recreation in opposition to UHS for the primary time since 2015 which can be the final time that Preston beat UHS. The Hawks have now gained 15 straight video games in opposition to the Knights.
“That’s one factor I informed my group at half is that proper now Preston desires to win,” Smith mentioned. “That they had every part happening their facet and so they had been beating us to each ball. It is a totally different Preston than we’re used to seeing.”
Garrett Haymond had 9 saves in purpose for Preston whereas UHS keeper Connor Montgomery got here away with two saves.
The Hawks now advance to Thursday’s sectional last when they’ll host the winner of the Bridgeport versus Buckhannon-Upshur contest. The sport will start at 5:45 p.m.
By ERIC HERTER