Miller's two goals send GW boys past Parkersburg
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Winning the Mountain State Athletic Conference soccer championship has usually meant the kiss of death.
No team until Hurricane last year won the conference and the Class AAA state title in the same season. George Washington is looking to ride that new wave of momentum into the approaching postseason.
The Patriots took that first step Saturday afternoon as senior Noah Miller netted two goals, including the winning tally in overtime, to send top-ranked GW past No. 3 Parkersburg 2-1 in the MSAC boys title showdown at Schoenbaum Soccer Stadium in Coonskin Park.
A crowd of about 200 attended the matchup of Class AAA top-five teams. The Patriots beat the host Big Reds 2-1 Oct. 1. Parkersburg edged GW 1-0 in last year's state tournament semifinals.
GW senior co-captain Peter Nelson tracked down a ball in the left corner early in the 10-minute OT period Saturday, then played it out to sophomore Patrick Davis, who then passed the ball back to Nelson.
Nelson then crossed the ball through the penalty-box area where it bounced to Miller, who was waiting at the right post. Miller put it in the back of the net for the victory less than two minutes into the extra period.
"My teammates put passes in the right spots,'' said Miller, who scored his 10th goal of the year. "I've got to give it all to them. It just bounced to me and I was at the right place at the right time. [Nelson] somehow squirted it through the middle and I was there.''
"It's definitely a mental boost for the kids,'' added GW coach Tom Hopper. "We were fortunate. Peter made a great move to center that ball across and Noah made a goal that was kind of surprising. The kids can take a lot of positive out of this.''
Ties aren't broken during the regular season, but the MSAC needed to crown a champion. GW (17-0-2) and Parkersburg will both be credited with a tie on their regular-season record.
The MSAC championship and triumph over Parkersburg couldn't have come at a better time for the Patriots, who suffered their first blemish on their record this week with a 1-1 tie against Charleston Catholic.
"It's a big win, especially off our Catholic game,'' Miller said, "which was a disappointing tie. We just kept it up and really played hard during that overtime and won it early. We knew it was going to be a close game. We were ready.''
Miller gave GW a 1-0 lead in the opening half Saturday on a nifty unassisted tally. The senior co-captain held off a defender on his left and Big Reds keeper Reid Strobl, who had three saves, on his right to poke the ball through both players.
Parkesburg knotted it at 1-all late in the second half when the Patriots were called for a handball in the penalty-box area that resulted in a penalty kick. Parkersburg junior Tommy Logston scored on a shot into the lower-left corner past GW goalie Garrett Phillips, who finished with seven saves - six after halftime.
"I'm so proud of my kids and how they didn't back down,'' said Parkesburg coach Don Fosselman. "The first half we didn't play very well. The second half we started knocking the ball around and we had [George Washington] back on their heels. We had so much more composure [in the second half].''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.