GW, PHS square off in showdown of unbeatens

PARKERSBURG -What was meant to be a defensive tactic has resulted into an offensive barrage this season for the Parkersburg High School boys soccer team.

The Big Red scoring machine is averaging 5.5 goals per match and today at Stadium Field they will be put to the test by a George Washington squad which is ranked No. 1 in the state because of its perfect record and the fact the Patriots have given up just one goal this season.

Something will have to give during a match scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Heading into this past Saturday’s match at Woodrow Wilson, the third-ranked Big Reds owns a record of 11-0-2, while George Washington sports an 11-0-0 mark.

“I look for a real competitive match,” PHS coach Don Fosselman said. “Their coach Tom Hopper does a wonderful job. Year in and year out, George Washington has a quality team and it’s always a pleasure to play them.”

When the season opened for PHS, Tyler Bro started at sweeper and Matt Powney played as a defensive midfielder. During the course of the schedule, Fosselman decided to make a switch and put Bro as an attacking midfielder and Powney as a forward.

“We had a game I thought we could win, so I moved those kids up,” Fosselman said. “So I just kept them there.”

Four Big Reds have reached double-digits in goals scored and another is on the cusp. Tommy Logston leads the club with 15 goals to go with 11 assists, while Powney has contributed 12 goals and five assists. Evan Rhodes sits at 10 goals and 13 assists with Bro adding nine goals and eight assists.

Coming off the bench as a floater is Immanuel Opuka-Dua. His versatility to sub in at several positions has resulted in 10 goals and two assists.

“Immanuel is able to keep the other guys fresh, and it’s a luxury I’ve never had before,” Fosselman said.

Despite missing three matches because of an injury, Big Red keeper Reid Strobl has done an admirable job. Fosselman considers him the best in the state at his position.

“That one might be hard to argue because George Washington’s keeper has given up one goal all year,” Fosselman said. “Reid is 6-foot-2 and he is intimidating. He is able to defend the high ball or low ball. He is just the total package.

“He has improved more than any other kid we’ve had in the past three years.”

Strobl’s counterpart is Garrett Phillips, who was in goal when George Washington blanked PHS 3-0 during the regular season and again at the Class AAA state semifinals when the Big Reds won 1-0. The Patriots graduated only two seniors from that particular team.

George Washington’s Peter Nelson and Noah Miller are two returning letterwinners Fosselman hasn’t forgotten about.

“Every player they have is a potential first-team all-stater,” Fosselman said.