POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Welcome back.
After four seasons of triple-A play, the Point Pleasant soccer team made a triumphant return to the Class AA ranks Tuesday night following a 3-0 shutout victory over visiting Lincoln County in a season-opening non-conference contest at Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field in Mason County.
The Black Knights (1-0-0) had a solid overall showing in their first outing of the 2016 campaign as the hosts dominated possession in the attack zone, which led to a sizable 29-17 advantage in shots by night’s end.
PPHS — which has only one senior on its young roster — had several unlucky scoring chances early on, which included a shot that hit the post before bouncing back into play and four attempts that sailed over the goal in the opening dozen minutes of regulation.
The Black Knights, however, kept up their ferocious attack deep into the first half … and good things eventually happened because of that collective hard work.
Austin Adams tipped in the game’s first goal on a straight away shot attempt by Brandon Bryant from 18 yards out. Adams’ score came at the 5:26 mark of the first half, with Bryant receiving an assist on the only goal of the first half.
Adams provided a little extra breathing room after running down a free ball that led to an unassisted goal at the 36:51 mark of the second half, making it a 2-0 advantage for the Big Blacks.
Adams also played a part in the final goal of the game after delivering a side pass inside the box to an open Zach Rediger, who buried the ball in the back of the net for a 3-0 cushion with just under 20 minutes left in regulation.
Point Pleasant claimed a 4-0 edge in corner kicks and also received 15 saves from keeper Cole Walker, who preserved the shutout triumph. Caleb Rusk came up with 14 saves for the Panthers (0-1-0) in the setback.
After three years away from the program, Tuesday night also marked a triumphant return for PPHS coach Chip Wood.
Wood acknowledged that, early on, you could see some this team’s youth shining through. More importantly, he felt that his guys also did a lot of growing up as the game progressed.
“Lincoln County was very disciplined early on about clogging up our middle attack. They did what they needed to do to stop our attack,” Wood said. “We did a really good job of making adjustments and executing in the second half by getting the ball wide and then bringing the ball back in. I thought our attackers and midfielders did a really good job tonight, plus we had three freshmen starters on the back line play really well and Cole was solid in net.
“I know we are going to have some growing pains as we gain experience, but you could see these guys gaining confidence as the night went on because of the way we adjusted. It wasn’t perfect, but I am very proud of what I saw out of these guys tonight. It’s a good way to start the season.”
Point Pleasant returns to action Thursday when it hosts Poca in another non-conference matchup at 7 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.