PARKERSBURG - Brooke's defensive tactics could keep Parkersburg at bay for only so long during a Class AAA, Region I, Section 1 semifinal boys soccer match Monday night at Stadium Field.
Four players scored a goal as the Big Reds posted their eighth shutout of the season after defeating the Bruins, 4-0. The scene for Wednesday's sectional final returns to Stadium Field where PHS will meet Wheeling Park (a 4-3 double-overtime winner against Parkersburg South on Monday night) for a match beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Against Brooke, it appeared as if the rout was on as Bruin keeper Zachary Ciccolella was greeted immediately with three shot attempts in the first three minutes of the first half. Two resulted in goals.
A mere 49 seconds into the match, PHS forward Matt Powney took possession at midfield and found Hunter Hill sprinting downfield along the sideline. Hill received the pass 25 yards from the goal, made the attack then let the shot go just inside the box. The ball glanced off the far post then trickled past the keeper.
Two minutes later, PHS midfielder Cameron Morris centered a pass to Garrett Kruger, who was stationed deep in the box and converted the goal.
"We started out flat, but we made some adjustments and defended well," Brooke coach Brian Cerullo said.
Brooke (4-9-1) tightened up its forces for the remainder of the first half and the first 25 minutes of the second half. PHS consistently pushed possession deep into Bruin territory and created multiple scoring opportunities but Ciccolella was up to the task.
The converted forward made 16 saves for the match.
"We had a couple injuries early in the year and we shifted Zachary back to keeper, and he really helped us out all year," Cerullo said.
Careless ball handling on Brooke's part allowed PHS forward Nick Payne to score a goal from close range with 15:14 remaining in regulation. Kruger was credited with an assist.
Moments later with 12:32 showing on the clock, Big Red midfielder Tyler Parsons was the beneficiary of some impressive passing from Powney and Evan Rhodes and put the Big Reds in front, 4-0.
"We slotted the ball through a lot - we did well a couple of times and created some nice chances," PHS coach Don Fosselman said after his squad improved to 14-3-4. "They had so many numbers behind the ball, so it was really hard to get a really good clean shot."
Earning credit for the shutout were PHS keepers Reid Strobl and Eric Scott. Strobl made four saves before giving way to Scott with 10 minutes left in the second half.
"We weren't able to get enough opportunities to put the ball in the net," Cerullo said.
Senior co-captain Zack Wilcoxen was nursing a sore hamstring and did not play, but is expected to return for Wednesday's sectional final. Questionable for that same night is junior defenseman Austin Yeater, who suffered a high ankle sprain against Brooke in the 14th minute of the first half.
"They will evaluate Austin (Tuesday)," Fosselman said. "As for Zach, he is good to go. I couldn't drag him off."