Slaton Kowalkoski makes a save for the Buckhannon-Upshur Buccaneers against Morgantown in their 2023 opener Wednesday evening at the high school. (Brian Bergstrom/My Buckhannon).

Soccer Bucs tumble in 2023 debut to Morgantown, 3-1

TENNERTON – A sluggish first half hurt the Buckhannon-Upshur soccer Bucs in their 2023 debut at home against the Morgantown Mohigans Wednesday evening in non-conference action.

The Bucs trailed at the half by 3-0 score but came out and played a much stronger second half blanking Morgantown while getting their lone goal in the 54th minute.

“Tonight, I believe we saw the true character of our team,” remarked Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Mike Donato. “Getting down early like we did can crush confidence and break teams down, but the players found a way to pull together and be the better team in the second half.”

Joel Beeson put Morgantown on the board at the 13-minute mark when he dribbled through the B-U defense and scored with a shot to the near post.

Riley Brabson treated Morgantown to a 2-0 lead in the 27th minute when he took a cross from Beeson and scored with a goal to the back post.

Brabson scored again four minutes later with an unassisted goal when he dribbled from the left side and scored with a shot to the near post.

B-U freshman Riel Figueroa scored his first high school goal in the 54th minute to avoid the shutout when he dribbled past a Morgantown defender and scored to the near post.

“It felt good to get that first goal,” stated Figueroa. “My game continues to grow as I play more and more. My teammates set me up well with the goal giving me a good pass allowing me to get the shot off. We started off slow tonight, but I felt we won the second half and that gives us something to build on for the next game.”

The Bucs were outshot by a 12-8 margin and trailed in corner kicks by a 4-2 count.

B-U was guilty of five fouls while the Mohigans were called for six.

Buckhannon-Upshur keeper Slaton Kowalkoski made nine saves while Morgantown goalie Tyler Crites turned away seven shots.

“We were pleased to see our guys challenge every ball and play to the level of Morgantown’s physicality,” concluded Donato. “Although it wasn’t the result we wanted, there were a lot of positives to take out of tonight’s result. Guys really stepped up to face some difficult challenges against tough competition.”

The Bucs will now prepare for a long road trip Friday to Lewisburg when they face Greenbrier East at 6 p.m.

The boxscore:

Morgantown 3  0 – 3

Buckhannon-Upshur 0  1 – 1


Morgantown – Joel Beeson (unassisted), 13th minute.

Morgantown – Riley Brabson (Beeson assist), 27th minute.

Morgantown – Brabson (unassisted), 31st minute.

Buckhannon-Upshur – Riel Figueroa (unassisted), 54th minute.

Shots-on-goal – Morgantown: 12; Buckhannon-Upshur: 8.

Fouls – Morgantown: 6; Buckhannon-Upshur: 5.

Corner kicks – Morgantown: 4; Buckhannon-Upshur: 2.

Saves – Morgantown: Tyler Crites 7; Buckhannon-Upshur: Slaton Kowalkoski  9.

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