Highlanders let one slip
HUNTINGTON -- The Huntington High boys soccer team was unable to hold on to a 2-0 lead Thursday night, as the Parkersburg Big Reds rallied late to get a 2-2 draw out of the contest.
"A 2-0 lead is a kiss of death in soccer, it can go either way," Highlanders head coach Sammy Boateng said after the match. "Hats off to (Parkersburg), they wanted it more at certain points of the game and that's what made the difference. Our kids wanted it in the beginning and just fell off a bit."
Parkersburg out-muscled Huntington High late in the game, and controlled possession late in the second half. Some Huntington High players fell victim to cramps as the clock ticked down.
"I can't say I'm unhappy with my kids, because they played their hearts out tonight," Boateng said. "They just got tired a bit, but they walked off the cramps and played through that, and it's a well deserved tie."
The teams went to the half scoreless after Parkersburg managed four shots on goal and Huntington High manufactured two shots, both of which missed the net.
The Highlanders struck in the 51st minute when senior Austin Preece threaded a pass through the defense to the feet of Quintin Wood, who found himself open in front of keeper Reid Strobl. Wood put the ball past Strobl with apparent ease to open the scoring.
"I get on them all the time telling them they don't have to dribble, dribble, dribble," Boateng said. "There were three touches on that goal."
Huntington High got another chance less than three minutes later when forward Daichi Usagida was hauled down in the keeper box and a penalty kick was awarded.
Max Simpson was denied by Strobl on the PK, but Usagida followed up on the rebound and hammered the ball into an empty net as Huntington High went up, 2-0.
With 20 minutes to go, things started to unravel for Huntington High.
Parkersburg scored on an own goal after a cross from Big Reds forward Evan Rhodes went through the hands of keeper Jeffrey Howard then deflected off a defender into the goal.
Usagida would make another run on the Big Reds' net, but collided with Strobl in the 65th minute. Strobl was down on the field for a long time with a head injury and eventually had to be taken off by a cart.
After that, Parkersburg poured on the attack, snapping off six shots in the final 15 minutes.
The equalizer came with six minutes remaining on a deep throw in that found Tommy Logston unmarked in front of the goal, where he deflected the ball home.
The Big Reds managed two shots after that, but one went high while the second went wide.
Simpson had a chance from well outside in the final seconds of the match to put the Highlanders ahead, but his shot went just wide.
Boateng played Howard in goal in the second half and started Chad Dye in net in the first half. He said it's part of a competition for the job of replacing departed senior Hunter Smith.
Huntington High next plays Saturday at noon, when the Highlanders host Wheeling Park.
PARKERSBURG 0 2 -- 2
HUNTINGTON HIGH 0 2 -- 2
H -- Wood (Preece), 51st minute.
H -- Usagida, 54th minute.
P -- HHS own goal, 60th minute.
P -- Logston, 74th minute.
Shots: P 17 (8 on goal); H 12 (5 on goal). Corners: P 4; H 4. Saves: P 3 (Strobl); H 7 (Dye 3, Howard 4).