GW boys blank Hurricane
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's hard to gauge how a matchup of top-10 teams will go with adrenaline and emotions running high, but George Washington followed coach Tom Hopper's script to another shutout victory Tuesday evening.
Drew Davis scored a goal less than three minutes into the second half and No. 2 GW made it stand up for a 1-0 decision over No. 9 and defending state champion Hurricane. A crowd of about 120 attended the Class AAA battle of state-ranked boys teams at Andrew Jordon Field at Trace Fork.
The showdown featured the last two AAA boys state champions. Hurricane defeated Parkersburg 2-0 last year to claim its first title, while GW downed Washington 5-2 in 2011 for its second championship. GW also played in last year's state semifinals.
The Patriots had barraged Redskins keeper Tim Hayslett with nine shots during Tuesday's opening half, and he stopped every one, including several diving stabs.
Davis and Noah Miller, though, hooked up to give GW a 1-0 lead with 37:17 left in the game.
Miller dribbled down the right side of the penalty-box area, then got around his defender and passed to Davis at the right post. Davis scored with a sliding kick, putting the ball into the lower left corner.
"They've played together a long, long time and they know how each other's going to react,'' said GW coach Tom Hopper.
"We've played some teams where we haven't scored in a while so I think [our players] are accustomed to being pretty patient. It was starting to get frustrating because we had a lot of opportunities. We kept plugging away and it worked out. We knew it was going to be a tough one.''
Avery Meadows came close to drawing Hurricane even at the 6:14 mark, but his shot across GW's goal was corralled by Patriots keeper Garrett Phillips, who made a diving, one-handed snag on the turf. Phillips finished with five saves.
The Patriots (8-0) controlled the pace and possession throughout with a 12-5 edge in shots on goal. The Redskins (6-2-1) had several scoring chances in the first half on counterattacks that penetrated to the Patriots' box but only managed one shot on target after halftime.
"It took us a while to figure out where the people were that were going to actually counterattack,'' said Hopper, whose team hasn't allowed a goal this season and has outscored its opponents 30-0. "Once we made that adjustment, that helped us a lot to shut it down.''
"We didn't get that going as well today,'' first-year coach Hurricane Derek Ragle said of the counterattack. "They did a good job of marking and finding Loran Meadows and [Guillermo] Ugarte. [GW] is every reason we played the way we did.''
The Patriots held in check Ugarte, Hurricane's foreign-exchange student from Chile who leads the Kanawha Valley with 17 goals, and Meadows, who has 13 tallies.
Ugarte always attracted a swarm of defenders when he dribbled into GW territory, and he was forced to give the ball up to his teammates. Hayslett finished with 11 saves.
"I knew coming into this it was going to take a great effort,'' said Ragle, who replaced Jim Dagostine after seven seasons and last year's state title.
"GW's a great team. They just possess the ball so well. I would compare them to Spain's national team. [The Patriots] just work the ball down the field. They rarely turn it over.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.