POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Unbeaten no more.
A pair of top-10 Class AA teams were scheduled for battle, but the Point Pleasant boys soccer team appeared to be the only group with any ammunition on Thursday night following a 4-0 triumph over visiting Lincoln County in a non-conference match at Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field in Mason County.
The host Black Knights (8-1-0) notched their fourth consecutive victory — tying a season-high mark — while also handing the Panthers (7-1-0) their first setback of the year. It was also the fifth shutout posted by the Red and Black this fall.
PPHS — which entered the contest ranked eighth in the Class AA-A poll — dodged a few bullets throughout the course of regulation, but the hosts also had a few unlucky breaks along the way as well.
Lincoln County — which entered the game ranked sixth in the Class AA-A poll — had a few decent shots sail either wide or high of the net in the opening 15 minutes, while Point Pleasant had little luck in breaking through with a handful of shots ending up on goal.
In the 19th minute, however, the Black Knights cracked the scoreboard as Garrett Hatten found Alberto Castillo open in the mid-front.
Castillo had to make a sliding kick on his shot attempt in front, which cleared two defenders and trickled passed the keeper on the low left side, giving the hosts a 1-0 advantage.
Point Pleasant took that one-goal cushion into the intermission, but the hosts really turned up the intensity in the second half — which showed later in the final score.
Adam Veroski made it a 2-0 contest in the 46th minute as the sophomore had a shot essentially land on his foot while standing in front of the goal. Veroski buried the boot to the low left side to double the home team’s advantage.
Veroski netted his second goal of the game in the 59th minute, thanks to an assist from Castillo. Veroski received a pass from 20 yards out and floated a shot top-shelf, which managed to work its way under the cross bar for a 3-0 cushion.
Castillo capped the scoring in the 75th minute after taking a Braxton Watkins-Lovejoy pass and working through two defenders before completing the breakaway goal.
The Black Knights also had a penalty kick goal in the 78th minute, but Garrett Hatten’s boot was waived off due to an early start on the offense.
Point Pleasant claimed a 17-10 edge in shots on goal and also had eight corner kicks in the triumph. The Black Knights have also outscored opponents by a 45-5 overall margin this season.
Overall, PPHS coach Chip Wood was pretty happy with the end result … as well as where his team appears to be at roughly the midway point of the season.
“Honestly, their opportunities came because we were creating so much offense. They dropped a lot of people back into our attack zone and when they could gain possession, it left them a lot of open space on the other side of the field. Lincoln County had some good looks, but Nick (Smith), the back row and the center mids were solid on that end of the field tonight,” Wood said. “The good thing on the offensive side was that we made a mid-game adjustment and the kids executed it perfectly. We started the second half sending more crosses in the air to open up that middle. It took about a half-dozen of them, but it really paid off for us in the end. It was a really good win.”
Nick Smith recorded his fifth shutout of the year in stopping 10 shots in goal for Point Pleasant.
The Black Knights host Ohio Valley Christian on Saturday, then take a 10-day break in the schedule before resuming play at Chapanville on Sept. 18.
“As of Saturday, we will have played 10 games in 22 days … so I’m really proud that we can still come out and put in this kind of effort. It really shows that the early season conditioning is working,” Wood said. “We need to get through one more game with Ohio Valley Christian, then we have 10 days off on the schedule. We have several things to work on to get better over that time, but it will also give us some time to recover for the stretch run.”
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.