TENNERTON – On a day when Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Mike Donato welcomed his second child to the world around 3:30 in the morning, the Huntington Highlanders decided to spoil the special day for Donato as they stole a late victory from the Bucs Tuesday evening in a non-conference clash at the high school.
The Bucs couldn’t make a pair of early leads hold up and Huntington broke a 2-2 deadlock in the waning minutes of the game for a 3-2 victory.
Huntington entered the game with an 0-3 record but had played one of the toughest early-season schedules in the state in George Washington, Parkersburg and Hurricane.
“We made sure to let our team know to not let Huntington’s record fool them,” noted Donato. “Even though they hadn’t won a game yet, they’ve easily played one of the most difficult schedules in Class AAA to start the season.”
The Bucs scored quickly to open the game as Noah Radabaugh played a through ball to Zach Calef-Boring who finished his shot to the near post with two minutes gone.
Just a minute later, Huntington tied the game up at 1-1 when Colson Parker scored from 20 yards out with an unassisted goal.
The Bucs snuck in a goal right before the half as Radabaugh played another through ball that Julien Larcher caught up to, dribbled in and nailed a hard shot to the far post just inside the penalty area.
Huntington tied the game in the 53rd minute when Buckhannon-Upshur misplayed the ball in their own end and Mattick Scultz took advantage of the mistake and scored with a shot to the far post.
Huntington scored the game-winner with less than two minutes remaining when Socrates Savingos had a one-on-one with B-U keeper Dalton Auvil and scored with a shot to the near post.
“The game started out like a heavyweight fight with each teaming coming out fast and scoring quickly,” stated Donato. “Our defense started out great, forcing several offsides calls and great counter-attack opportunities, which is how we scored both of our goals in the first half. We were hoping those chances would continue in the second half and they did for the most part, but Huntington did a good job of wearing us down late and took advantage of some mistakes on our positioning and inability to clear or consistently connect passes.”
Huntington owned an 11-6 margin in shots-on-goal while the Bucs held an 2-0 advantage in corner kicks.
Auvil made eight saves in the net for the Bucs while Owen Deutsch made four stops for Huntington.
The Bucs were called for just two fouls while Huntington was guilty of seven.
Despite the setback, Donato was happy to have his entire starting line-up back after beginning the season with several players out.
“Tonight was our first night with all starters back healthy, so I feel once we get some practices under our belt and a few guys back in game shape we’ll be able to get back in our top form soon,” stated Donato.
The Bucs dropped to 2-2-2 on the season.
They will be back in action Thursday visiting Grafton for an 8 p.m. start.
Huntington 1 2 – 3
Buckhannon-Upshur 2 0 – 2
Buckhannon-Upshur – Zach Calef-Boring (Noah Radabaugh assist), 2nd minute
Huntington – Colson Parker (unassisted), 3rd minute
Buckhannon-Upshur – Julien Larcher (Radabaugh assist), 39th minute
Huntington – Mattik Scultz (unassisted), 53rd minute
Huntington – Socrates Savingos (unassisted), 78th minute
Shots-on-goal – Huntington 11; Buckhannon-Upshur 6.
Corner kicks – Huntington: 0; Buckhannon-Upshur 2.
Fouls – Huntington 7; Buckhannon-Upshur 2.
Saves – Huntington: Owen Deutsch 4; Buckhannon-Upshur: Dalton Auvil 8.