WILLIAMSTOWN -Goals will be at a premium when top-ranked Charleston Catholic and second-ranked Williamstown clash at Ripley High School for tonight's Class AA/A Region IV boys soccer championship.
Both programs have impressive resumes in terms of defense. Each has produced nine shutouts. Williamstown has allowed a mere 12 goals while compiling a 15-1-3 record, while Charleston Catholic's keepers have surrendered just 20 goals during a 20-0-2 campaign.
Game time in Ripley is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. The winner advances to the semifinal round of the state tournament, Friday, Nov. 2 at the YMCA Youth Sports Complex in Beckley.
Photo by Kerry Patrick
After capturing the Class AA/A, Region IV, Section 1 title last week at Ravenswood, the Williamstown High School soccer team now meets top-ranked Charleston Catholic in a regional championship today at Ripley High School. Members of the Yellowjacket squad are, front row from left: Tori Poole, Jarric Hoskins, Ryan Martin, Mitchell Goertler, Garret Butler, Alex Gedon, Brandon Semon, Josh Walters, Evan Fowler and Megan Steele. Back row: Assistant coach Cindy Shawver, Brandon Streeter, Kelton Hutchins, Megan Wallace, Joe Buckley, Laura Petty, Sherylei Richards, Heather Albertson, Trace Elder, Hannah Jarvis, Matt Zlatkind, Ian Hostottle, Kade Kiselica, Gavin Hayes, Gearrick Watt, Brandon McPherson and head coach Mike Albertson.
"The defense has stepped up big - all year, it's been the same," Williamstown senior forward Jarric Hoskins said following the Yellowjackets' 2-0 win against Ravenswood in last Thursday's sectional final. "They've pretty much backed us out of tight spots whenever the other team's offense was pushing."
One of those responsible for Williamstown's success is senior Garret Butler, who returned to the keeper position after playing stopper the past two seasons.
"Garret has been playing keeper for years and he seems to always make the right decision," said Williamstown coach Mike Albertson, who also played keeper during high school and college. "I leave it up to him. I have confidence he will do the right thing."
Behind leading goal scorers Hoskins (20 goals, 9 assists) and Josh Walters (18 goals, 8 assists), the Yellowjackets are scoring at a 2.42 clip per match. Walters has been the offensive catalyst in a pair of sectional victories while scoring four goals and assisting on another.
Charleston Catholic's proficiency on the offensive end has resulted in a 4.32 scoring average.
Williamstown's second-ever trip to the regional final - and first since 2008 - will be its first experience on a turf field this season. While preparing for the Irish, the Yellowjackets have held several practices at Parkersburg High School's Stadium Field.
"It's just going to be a faster game on turf," Albertson said. "The good thing, there will be honest rolls and honest bounces. We won't be playing on sprinkler heads and rocks. We've played on some pretty rough surfaces - a lot of grass surfaces at this time of year have been chewed up."
Even though the two schools did not face each other during the regular season, Albertson took advantage of an opportunity to scout Charleston Catholic when the Irish played Parkersburg to a 3-3 tie at Stadium Field two weeks before the start of the sectional tournament.
The only other blemish preventing the Irish from a perfect record occurred on Oct. 4 when they settled on a 2-2 tie with George Washington.
"Charleston Catholic is very solid, but they kind of play a similar style to us," Albertson said. "They like to do quick counter attacks. They take advantage of their speed and skill up top."
Since high school soccer in West Virginia was divided into classifications in time for the 2008 season, three of the four Class AA/A titles belong to Charleston Catholic.
"It would be a thrill if we win (on Tuesday)," Albertson said. "It would be so exciting for the school and community. But we have to play 80 solid minutes and can't afford any letdowns.
"I've stressed to the kids to take advantage of this opportunity that is being given to them because this doesn't come along too often."