WEIRTON - The Steubenville Big Red's boys soccer team came limping into Jimmy Carey Stadium Tuesday to take on Weir High, and put up a strong effort despite missing four regulars while three others played injured.
In the end though, the Red Riders relentless pressure was just a bit too much to overcome. The home team received a goal from Ryan Duke on a pass from Nathan Masters with 15:09 remaining that ultimately gave them a 3-2 win.
"We played well," said Weir head coach Joe Pepe. "I can't complain. We moved the ball well. We controlled the ball. They had a couple breakdowns, and that's how they scored on us.
USING THE HEAD — Big Red’s Stefano Lanni heads the ball as Weir’s Jonathan Fedoush and Big Red’s Brandon Llewellyn look watch from below. Big Red fell 3-2 to the Red Riders Tuesday at Jimmy Carey Stadium.
-- Fred Younce
"I'm proud of this team. We moved the ball around and looked like a soccer team should look."
Masters, who also played a strong game defensively for the winners, got in on his squad's first goal as well just 6:55 into the action. He played a ball to Alex Hannah who lasered a shot past Big Red goaltender John Paul Duff to make the score 1-0 Weir.
"He plays good defense, and he got two assists today, so he's probably as happy as can be," Pepe said of Masters. "It's his senior year and to get those two assists, he really did well."
Brandon Llewellyn, who played through an injury, knotted the game at one a piece with 7:58 left in the first half. He took a through pass from Jorge Dominguez and beat Weir goaltender Matt Tenaglio for the score.
"After Brandon got that goal I thought we played really well the rest of the game," said Big Red head coach Greg Bowers. "He's a tough kid. He's going to play no matter what. He'll run through a brick wall if that's what he needs to do.
"He's a good senior role model for the rest of the team."
The game remained tied at the half, but Weir came out and scored early in the second stanza.
At 34:25 of the second half, Kenny Muhart sent a beautiful crossing pass to Shane Davis, who lept and played the ball off his foot into the net for the 2-1 Red Riders' lead.
Llewellyn again tied things up, this time at 31:30 left in the game. Dom DiCarlo sent a through pass as Llewellyn made his break to the net. He used blinding speed to beat the defense while miraculously staying onside against Weir's offside trap to get a one-on-one with Tenaglio. He beat the Weir goaltender for a second time and the game sat at 2-all.
"They run that offsides trap," said Bowers. "Offsides trap can work, obviously like it did earlier in the game, but when you get caught it can look really bad because your wide open.
"Brandon did a good job of putting that one away."
Added Pepe of the game-tying goal, "Let's just put that up to a miscue. We have a good defense. The defense has been strong for us all year long. We really don't have any complaints about them."
That set up the Masters to Duke heroics that gave the Red Riders the 3-2 win.
"I've told you before we have a good soccer team on its way to becoming a great soccer team," said Pepe. "Take nothing away from Big Red because they came over here and they wanted to play."
Tenaglio saved six shots for Weir while Duff turned away 15 in the loss.
Big Red fell to 6-5-2.
"Once we got past the fact we didn't think we could compete with Weir we did quite well," said Bowers. "We're just a few plays short of pulling these games out, but that's part of the learning process.
"We're going to be patient, but hopefully we'll learn from our mistakes before tournament time."
Weir moves forward with a tough schedule.
"We're 11-2-2 and we have a tough road ahead of us," said Pepe. "This is the way we planned it, to have a tough road ahead of us. We have Wheeling Park at home Thursday. Then we have Ravenswood, who has only lost a couple matches, here Saturday.
"Then we have University coming in Tuesday of next week, then we go down to Linsly. The way we've always done it is if it's too hot for the chaplain, it's just right for us.
"This is the way we have to handle things."