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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Parkersburg downs St. Joe in semifinals

Parkersburg downs St. Joe in semifinals

SPRING VALLEY -- Huntington St. Joseph finally met its match Tuesday in the Region IV boys' soccer semifinals at the Spring Valley Soccer Complex.

Parkersburg appeared slightly bigger, faster and stronger in a 1-0 victory in less than ideal playing conditions. The Fighting Irish (16-3-1) played a strong game, especially on the defensive side, and showed a lot of fight against the No. 3 ranked Big Reds (20-1-1). Parkersburg will move on to the Region IV championship game Thursday night at Huntington High. The Region IV winner will advance to the West Virginia State Tournament on Nov. 4-5 at the YMCA Soccer Complex in Beckley.

The game was played in what was practically a mud pit. It followed the girls' contest and although the rain finally stopped, the field became sloppier throughout the match. It became increasingly difficult for both teams to stay upright.

It was still an exciting and competitive contest despite the conditions.

"That was a very good St. Joe team," said Parkersburg coach Don Fosselman. "They were excellent. Both are ball possession teams and got some nice looks early. But the ball would get stuck in the mud."

The Big Reds, who out shot the Irish 8-4, got what they needed when senior defender Abe Levin-Nielsen drilled a long shot past diving St. Joe keeper Alex Baldera.

Parkersburg's experience along with an outstanding save by keeper Brent McGee in the closing minutes, kept the Irish from scoring. Baldera, who switched from keeper to forward with about seven minutes to play, attempted a diving header, and McGee made a tremendous stop.

Fosselman said his team's conditioning, substitutions and sheer desire was the biggest factor.

St. Joe coach Chuck Karnes said his team's lack of experience was more of a difference.

"I'm very proud of this very young team," Karnes said. "We knew we would be decent, but we weren't sure how far we could go this year. Getting out of the sectional took a lot of effort and heart. This was a heck of a game against a strong, extremely well-coached, extremely talented team. I couldn't ask for a better effort."

The Irish start couple of seniors and juniors, but rely mostly on the strength of freshmen and sophomores. Karnes said when that's the case in big games the more veteran team can seem better than it actually might be. He said experience can make it look like a team is quicker.

But he still couldn't take away from how good the Big Reds were.

"They were the best we've seen all year," he said. "But I'm extremely proud of these kids. They played above their heads."

Fortunately for the Irish, most will be back next year.

P-Levin-Nielsen (unassisted), 48:54
Shots: SJ 4, P 8. Saves: SJ 4 (Baldera 3, McGlone 1); P 4 (Brooks 2, McGee 2). Corner kicks: SJ 1, P 5.

Randy Snyder/The Herald-Dispatch

St. Joe's Dennis Cole, left, collides with Parkersburg's Jordan Jones as they battle for possession during the Region IV semifinal game at Spring Valley High School.

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Region IV Soccer Semifinals

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