TENNERTON – The Buckhannon-Upshur soccer Bucs picked up their first win of the season on Saturday afternoon with a 5-4 victory over the Webster County Highlanders.
But even bigger than getting that first win might have been a valuable lesson learned by the team in never underestimating an opponent.
The Bucs built a 4-1 lead at the break but let their Class AA opponent tie the game up at 4-4 with some lackadaisical play and it wasn’t until the final minutes of the game when they pulled out the win when Riel Figueroa scored the game-winner with less than three minutes remaining.
Figueroa ended the contest with four of the five B-U goals.
“Webster County pressed us and definitely outplayed us in the second half,” stated Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Mike Donato. “We had some chances to put it away early in the half but missed on some of those opportunities. Give Webster County credit for the stops they made and for taking advantage of our mistakes. They tested us mentally and physically, but we were fortunate to make some key plays late and Riel getting us the game winner late.”
Carter Hebb gave Webster County a quick 1-0 making good on a penalty kick in the fifth minute of the game.
Figueroa tied the contest at 1-1 scoring on a penalty kick of his own in the 17th minute.
Christian Dowell gave the Bucs their first lead in the 28th minute playing a pass from Figueroa and scoring with a shot to the far post.
Figueroa scored two goals in a four-minute span right before the half, playing a through ball from Ethan Dowell making it a 3-1 game and scoring an unassisted goal dribbling past the Webster County defense and scoring with a shot off his left foot to give the Bucs their 4-1 half time lead.
Webster County’s Logan Leichliter scored in the 51st minute to trim the B-U lead down to 4-2 then Ashton Moll scored consecutive goals for the Highlanders in the 57th and 61st minute to even the game at 4-4.
Figueroa scored the game winner with under three minutes to play with an unassisted goal when he dribbled it in off a pass and scored with a shot to the far post.
The Bucs, after playing one of the toughest schedules in the state against Morgantown, Greenbrier East and Wheeling Park prior to Saturday’s match-up, improved to 1-3 on the season.
For senior captain, Dirk Riley, he was happy his Bucs got the win but knows they can’t let their guard down again like they did against Webster County.
“It feels good to get that first win,” stated Riley. “We played some quality teams at the beginning of the season, so it feels great to put this game in the win column. It takes a little of the pressure off now. That said, when Webster County tied the game, I thought we had given away the win. We lost our focus and it almost cost us. Watching Riel score that game-winner was a huge relief. We just have to keep working on our communication and chemistry as we move forward.”
The Bucs owned a 13-12 advantage in shots-on-goal, but Webster County held a 3-2 advantage in corner kicks.
B-U was called for nine fouls while Webster County was whistled for eight.
“This was a very physical game,” noted Donato.
Buckhannon-Upshur keeper Slaton Kowalkoski made eight saves while his counterpart Gage Bender had eight stops for the Highlanders.
The Buc will be back in action Tuesday for a road game against Lincoln in their Big 10 Conference debut.
The outing will start at 8 p.m.
Webster County 1 3 – 4
Buckhannon-Upshur 4 1 – 5
Webster County – Carter Hebb (Penalty kick), 5th minute.
Buckhannon-Upshur – Riel Figueroa (Penalty kick), 17th minute.
Buckhannon-Upshur – Christian Dowell (Figueroa assist), 28th minute.
Buckhannon-Upshur – Figueroa (Ethan Dowell assist), 35th minute.
Buckhannon—Upshur – Figueroa (unassisted), 39th minute.
Webster County – Logan Leichliter (unassisted), 51st minute.
Webster County – Ashton Moll (unassisted), 57th minute.
Webster County – Moll (unassisted), 61st minute.
Buckhannon-Upshur – Figueroa (unassisted), 77th minute.
Shots-on—goal – Webster County: 12; Buckhannon-Upshur: 13.
Corner kicks – Webster County: 3; Buckhannon-Upshur: 2.
Fouls – Webster County: 8; Buckhannon-Upshur: 9.
Saves – Webster County: Gage Bender 8; Buckhannon-Upshur: Slaton Kowalkoski 8.