TENNERTON – Sophomore backup goalie Dirk Riley came up big for the Buckhannon-Upshur soccer Bucs in their regular-season finale as he posted a clean sheet in a 3-0 victory over the Elkins Tigers Tuesday night at the high school.
Riley, a part-time starter as a wing and seeing his first time in the net this year, made six saves in the shutout win.
“Injuries again left us shorthanded, particularly in goal with Dalton Auvil recovering from a shoulder injury from Saturday’s game, so we had to call on Dirk to step in and asked him and others to step up big for us and they did exactly that,” said Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Mike Donato. “We challenged our back line to protect our keeper and not give up and easy shots and they kept things pretty easy for him.”
The game was postponed almost 20 minutes as the field’s lights went out just prior to the start.
Riley got little help from his offense in the first half as the two teams battled to a 0-0 deadlock after 40 minutes of action, but the Bucs got their offense going late in the game with three goals in the final 15 minutes.
Caden Andrick jump-started the Buckhanon-Upshur offense in the 65th minute when he played a through ball from Ethan Dowling and scored with a shot to the far post.
That same duo came up big again five minutes later as Dowling played another through ball to Andrick who again found the back of the net with a shot to the far post.
Zach Calef-Boring added an insurance goal for the Bucs in the 78th minute when he played a through ball from Julien Larcher and dribbled to the right side, beating Elkins keeper Jacob Bender.
The Bucs owned a 16-6 lead in shots-on-goal, but Elkins held a 5-2 margin in corner kicks. Buckhannon-Upshur was guilty of four fouls while Elkins was called for 10.
“This was a great win against a tough rival in Elkins,” stated Donato. ”We needed our mids and forwards to press and get shots early. We created lots of chances but finally got them to go in during the second half. It was great to watch this team gain the confidence they’ll need going into sectionals next week. Right now our goal is to get healthy and stay sharp.”
The win gave the Bucs a 6-7-6 record overall and a 6-4-1 mark in the Big 10 Conference.
The Bucs will play in the sectional tournament either on Monday or Tuesday as times, dates and pairings are yet to be decided.
Elkins 0 0 – 0
Buckhannon-Upshur 0 3 – 3
Buckhannon-Upshur – Caden Andrick (Ethan Dowling assist), 65th minute.
Buckhannon-Upshur – Andrick (Dowling assist), 70th minute.
Buckhannon-Upshur – Zach Calef-Boring assist), 78th minute.
Shots-on-goals – Elkins 6; Buckhannon-Upshur 16.
Corner kicks – Elkins 5; Buckhannon-Upshur 2.
Fouls – Elkins 10; Buckhannon-Upshur 4.
Saves – Elkins: Jacob Bender 13; Buckhannon-Upshur: Dirk Riley 6.