John Bruce, Contributor
WHEELERSBURG — Most times, you don’t have to be perfect with your accuracy to score.
However, with how well Zane Trace’s Andrew Ramsey was playing on Wednesday night, Wheelersburg’s Aaron Jolly finally broke through on a perfectly-placed shot.
“I was definitely aiming for the left side,” Jolly said after the Pirates’ 2-0 Division III sectional championship victory. “I don’t know if it was supposed to go perfectly top, but it was a good shot. We had a lot of shots on goal, and their keeper [Ramsey] did very well. He’s a great keeper.”
Last week, Wheelersburg defeated the Pioneers 5-0. But last night, it appeared that it hadn’t affected the Pioneers’ confidence in any sense.
“We kept getting shots on frame, but their keeper played out of his mind tonight,” Wheelersburg head coach Jon Estep said after the game.
With Ramsey playing outstanding in the goal and seniors Kaden Howard and Jackson Wells highlighting the defense, Zane Trace was right in the game throughout. Junior speedster Spencer Wycinski and senior Colby Swain continued to try and penetrate the Pirates backline, but to no avail.
A major moment in the match happened with 26:40 to play when Howard went down and had to be helped off the field. His physical nature in the midfield was missed by the Pioneers.
He did return, but with only eight minutes to play.
After the teams played to a 0-0 deadlock for the first 60 minutes of the game, Jolly connected with a brilliant goal into the left upper 90 of the net, giving the Pirates the lead with 19:20 to play.
“It took a shot from 20 to 25 yards out from Aaron Jolly,” Estep continued. “And he put it in about the only spot that their keeper couldn’t get it.”
20 seconds later, the Pirates’ Lane Jordan found the back of the net in a similar fashion, extending the lead to 2-0 and practically putting the game on ice.
Zane Trace (7-8-2) was unable to mount any true pressure on the Pirates late in the game and Wheelersburg was able to celebrate a 2-0 victory.
Wheelersburg (16-1) will be back in action on Saturday at Waverly when they face SOC rival Valley (8-7-3) in a Division III district semifinal.
“We know what they have,” Estep said of Valley. “We know they are going to battle and they are going to be physical. We have to have a few good days of practice to get ready for it. We just know that, at any moment, there could be a misplay and give anyone the advantage. I do know we’re excited.”
NOTES: Wheelersburg defeated Valley in last season’s district semifinal round … this was the second consecutive sectional title for the Pirates, and 15th in the past 16 seasons … Jolly’s goal was his 36th this season … the game was the sixth shutout on the season for Wheelersburg … Wheelersburg has not been scored on in at least 320 game minutes.