West Virginia puts eight past Ohio

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Four years ago, Joe Pepe took over the boys’ soccer coaching job at Brooke.

In his first day on the job, he was joined by freshmen Konner Govey and Gage Barnhart. The trio went on to have a remarkable four years with the program and it concluded with a perfect ending Sunday at the OVAC All-Star Game.

Govey netted a pair of goals and provided an assist as the Pepe-coached West Virginia squad defeated Ohio in convincing fashion by an 8-2 count at St. Clairsville.

“It has been a great honor to coach them,” Pepe said. “Especially since when I started at Brooke four years ago, they started with me as freshmen. It is just a great honor to finish out our last game with them on the field.”

Six different players found the back of the net for the Mountaineers and along with Govey, University’s Rocky Palotta also garnered a pair of goals in the victory.

Weir goalkeeper Brett Hinchee of Weir gathered five saves, while Jacob Varner added one on the West Virginia side, while Ohio keeper, Sean Rataiczak of Caldwell, made 15 saves.

“He faced a lot of shots, unfortunately,” Ohio coach Joe Zirillo of Beaver Local said. “But he made some spectacular saves. He really showed his athleticism (Sunday). He did very well for us.”

Morgantown’s Alex Nelson put the Mountaineers on top early with a goal a little more than a minute into the contest.

Linsly was well represented in the match with defender Matt Dudich spoiling Ohio possessions all night, along with Manuel Suita, who picked up a goal in the 10th minute to give West Virginia a 2-0 advantage.

In the 25th minute, Palotta took over as he secured a pair of goals in a six-minute span and capped it off with a front flip to please the crowd.

The Buckeyes jumped on the board late in the first half as Beaver Local’s Josh Speelman sent a shot toward the top of the net and in to cut the halftime deficit to 4-1.

Speelman was named the Offensive MVP for Ohio.

A motivated Govey emerged early in the second half as he delivered a pair of goals in the first six minutes and supplied an assist to teammate Abel Knight of Morgantown to create a 7-1 cushion.

In the 36th minute, University’s Liam Theeke extended the lead to 8-1 before Ohio’s Ryan Delelles of Steubenville tallied the final goal of his outstanding high school career.

“It is an honor to be on the field with these guys,” Pepe said. “They are all talented players and that is why they are all stars.

“I had two great coaches with me on the sideline (Jesus Marin of John Marshall and Greg Martin of Linsly) and everyone did an excellent job.

“Ohio played their hearts out and I am proud of both teams.”

Nelson was named the Offensive MVP and Weir’s William Rice garnered the Defensive MVP Award for the Mountaineers, while Evan Naylor of Steubenville collected the Defensive MVP for Ohio.

“I told the guys before the game that we have a lot of talent,” Zirillo said. “We said take your opportunities when you get them and the goals will come but their goalkeeper made some good saves.

“It was just fun watching them all coming here with so much talent on both teams. These are some of the best kids in the area.”

Steubenville Catholic’s Mikey Irvin won the Class A/3A Player of the Year Award, while Delelles took home the honors in 4A and Theeke was selected for 5A