STEUBENVILLE - Things started close between Weir and Steubenville Catholic Central Thursday at the Tony Recinella Soccer Field.
Ultimately, the Red Riders proved to have too much firepower as Joe Pepe's squad pulled away for a 6-2 victory over the Crusaders (1-1).
"We've been working hard on trying to control the ball," said Pepe. "This is what our game plan is, to try to take control. We missed two open nets in the first half and a couple of other shots we could have had.
MAKING A PLAY — Catholic Central’s John-Paul McNamara makes a run toward the goal as Weir High defender Nathan Masters tries to make a play during Thursday’s 6-2 win by the Red Riders.
-- Fred Younce
"These are the things we need to work on. We have a young team. We have a good mixture of good senior leadership with some young kids coming along. They're working hard."
Weir (2-0) picked up the game's first goal at the 28:51 mark of the first half. Ryan Kirk sent a pass to Kenny Muhart in the center of the field where he quickly dropped it back to Steven Maragos, who laced a rocket into the right side of the net for the 1-0 Weir lead.
The Crusaders tied the game at 6:31 of the first half when Leo Herrmann made a nice individual move to beat the Weir defense and get a shot off right to left. It didn't find the net, but John-Paul McNamara was there to follow up and punch in the score.
"It was a well-played game," said Central head coach Steven Kopcha. "The first half, especially.
"The score was close. I think toward the end of the game they were able to keep a little more possession than we were. Because of that they were able to put a lot of offensive pressure on us, and got those goals. They were able to break us down."
About three minutes later, Weir took a lead it never relinquished. Josh Groves sent a pass through to Shane Davis who found himself one on one with Crusaders' goaltender John Bolster. Davis beat Bolster for the goal and a 2-1 lead.
"Take nothing away from Catholic Central," said Pepe. "I'm going to tell you what, every time we play Steubenville Central they give us a game.
"You could see at halftime we were only up 2-1. Central always steps up when the play us."
The Red Riders scored the first three goals of the second half to put distance between themselves and the home team.
They took a 3-1 lead when a Davis corner kick was headed home by Chad Hensley with 34:19 left in the game.
Muhart punched home an unassisted goal off Bolster's hands at the 24:04 mark to make the score 4-1.
The tally read 5-1 with 19:37 left when Muhart again scored, this time on an assist from Davis.
"It's a matter of playing with some confidence, realizing we have the skill necessary to control the ball," said Kopcha of his team in the second half. "We need to pick our heads up, take a view of the field, and make some better decisions with our passing."
Central stopped the bleeding with a Cuyler Ledger penalty kick goal with 16:57 left.
Weir put the finishing touches on the 6-2 win when Kirk put a shot in off the crossbar after Alex Hannah made a strong push upfield to set him up.