WEIRTON – The Weir and Wheeling Central men’s soccer teams experienced the full gamut of emotions in a classic battle on Saturday afternoon.
In a home and away game full of ups and downs, the winner was not determined until after almost 96 minutes of football.
Weir eldest Ryan Dunmyer scored the golden goal when he hit the ball into the net on a throw-in with 4:03 left in the second 10-minute overtime period, carrying the No. 1 seeded Red Riders in a 4-3 win over No. 2 Maroon Knights in West Virginia Class AA-A Region 1 Section 1 Final Saturday afternoon at Jimmy Carey Stadium.
Dunmyer’s heroic film stems from a long throw-in from senior Jacob Morgan.
“I’m going to have a hard time with this (the interview)”, Weir (16-1-2) head coach Matt Kopp said. “I can’t breathe. I couldn’t breathe for 20 minutes.
Dunmyer’s goal concluded an exciting conclusion to the game.
“A team always loses” Wheeling Central (15-4-3) head coach Brian Komorowski said. “Come to the playoffs, someone has to lose. It was a great game between two very good teams. It’s just unfortunate. It is a pity that we did not fall on the right side today.
With the win, Weir will now face Fairmont Senior (14-3-3) for the regional title at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fairmont East-West Stadium. Fairmont Senior advanced to the regional final by beating Frankfort, 4-1, on Saturday in another section final.
“We only have one day of training, but so do everyone. We only have one defeat. In this game we only played with three starters and we have five other guys coming off the bench. There were things I didn’t like today. We’re going to watch a movie and we were going to get ready to play.
The Section 1 match was deadlocked at 2 with less than a minute to go in regulation time. Weir advanced in hopes of scoring the winning goal in the dying seconds of the game. The ball finally found the foot of Michael Iafrate who unleashed a shot past Wheeling Central goalkeeper Eli Tucker and into the back of the net, giving the Red Riders a 3-2 advantage with just 31 fateful seconds on the clock.
Ifrate’s goal sent Weir players, coaches and fans into celebration as he appeared to be the nail in the Maroon Knights’ coffin.
In the end, the celebration turned out to be premature.
Just eight seconds later, Wheeling Central’s Ethyn Taylor gathered in a loose ball in the box and landed a shot past Weir goalkeeper John Wansack and into the back of the net to tie the score improbably to 3. -3 with only 23 seconds left in regulation time. .
“I have played, watched and coached football for 40 years, and I have never seen anything like it in my life” said Komorowski. “They had all the enthusiasm in the world. They thought they had just scored the winning goal. We got down, got fouled, put it in the box, and then Ethyn finished it.
The Red Riders were stunned after Taylor’s miraculous goal.
“It was the craziest ending I have ever seen” said Kopp. “To score with 30 seconds left for them to score and draw was amazing. We all thought we won the game.
After regulation ended, Kopp had to muster his troops and refocus them on the task at hand.
“It is not easy,” Kopp said he questioned how difficult it was for him to put his players in overtime after the heartbreaking end of the settlement. “They left the field with their heads down. I told them they just needed to go back and play.
“We have a lot of experience in this team. We have a lot of high school students. We have already lost here. It was good that it happened when it happened. They left the field and were able to locate themselves. They were able to get by themselves. “
Wansack made three saves for the Red Riders goal.
Eli Tucker, who made six saves in goal that day, made two diving saves in overtime to keep the Maroon Knights’ dream alive, however, a hit on a long throw-in turned out to be the loss of Wheeling Central.
Dunmyer’s goal was a reminder of what happened in Weir’s 3-2 win over Wheeling Central at home on October 5. by Morgane.
“It did (remind me of that game)”, said Komorowski. “It’s like a centerpiece for them. We preach to our children on set pieces. Set pieces are really important. We’ve had some success with set pieces, and other teams have scored from set pieces. Set pieces are really, really important.
Antonio Pittman opened the scoring with a penalty kick to give the Red Riders a 1-0 lead early in the game.
The Riders held the lead until Wheeling Central senior star Austin Nestor, who scored his team’s two goals in the regular season game, scored to tie the game at one goal apiece with 23: 39 to play in the first half.
“Wheeling Central is a well-trained team”, said Kopp. “Nestor is a great, great player. It was a battle. We did just enough to win.
The game was tied for nearly 17 minutes before Ryan Prager hit the ball into the net to break the deadlock and put the Maroon Knights ahead at 2-1 with 6:49 left to go before the halfway point. time.
The Knights held the lead for about 19 minutes of game time until Pittman scored his second goal on an assist from Luiz Bastos, tying the scoring again, this time at 2.
“They were two very good teams who fought to the end”, said Komorowski.
Both teams had opportunities over the next 27+ minutes, however, neither team was able to find the back of the net until the frenzied eight-second period at the end of regulation time.
“There was a comment in another coach’s diary recently that we should be nervous,” said Kopp. “This is my first time as a head coach to win a section title. We have never done this before. It (earning the section title) means a lot. We have been to this place before and we have lost.
“Our children are waiting for nothing but to be successful. I think we were the best team in our section. We could be favored to win the game against Fairmont Senior. We haven’t played them this year. It’s a tossup. Our children are not afraid of anyone. They don’t think they can be beaten. They think they can beat anyone. I like it like that. “
Both teams have made tactical changes following their meeting less than three weeks ago.
“They played four”, said Kopp. “They played with four defenders. We prepared for them to play three. This is what they used to play. It’s different from playing against a quartet. We had to attack from the outside. Nestor played a little deeper as a central midfielder than before.
Mattia Molendi, who assisted on Iafrate’s goal, played a key role for Weir in midfield.
“They did a little”, Kormorowski said he asked if either team did something different in the second game compared to the first. “They moved Mattia to the middle. I thought we were able to control the ball in the first half. They took the step, and that created some problems for us.
Each team scored a controversial goal the first time they met on the pitch, however, the second time around it wasn’t.
“We both stole goals in the first game. said Kopp. “Only two goals have been scored. Each has been assigned a goal. Today, the seven goals were legitimate goals. Both teams scored all of their goals today.
The heartbreaking loss has been a painful way for Wheeling Central’s nine seniors – Nathen Diffenbaugher, Noah Blair, Nathan Stryker, Johnny Emmerth, Andrew Tiu, Kelly Reidel, Gavin Lake, Nestor and Prager – to see their high school careers come to an end.
“We are losing nine old people”, said Komorowski. “I told them when I took them here that they have a hell of a career. They won three section titles. They wanted to win all four years. This streak is really impressive. They set the tone. They stabilized this program.
Although they came out on the wrong side of things on Saturday, the Maroon Knights have plenty to be proud of for all they’ve accomplished this season.
“This season has been extremely successful”, said Komorowski. “We played a very tough schedule, and we did very well. Weir is a good team. They’re going to have a battle with Fairmont Senior. We played Fairmont Senior and they beat us. We played Charleston Catholic and we tied them up. We faced a lot of teams vying to qualify for the state tournament, and we did very well. We have a lot to build for next year.