Warrior Run boys hand Hughesville first loss
TURBOTVILLE – Masen Wagner is comfortable with his role within the Warrior Run boys soccer program.
The senior attacking midfielder doesn’t mind if his final touch results directly into a goal or not. He just as well prefers setting up his teammates and allowing them the exhilarating feeling of watching the ball cross the goal line and to its final resting place.
Elias George, Alex Wehr and Hunter Confair were the beneficiaries of that unselfishness on Tuesday at Warrior Run. All three scored off Wagner assists and the Defenders became the first team to beat Hughesville this season, ending the Spartans’ early-season three-game winning streak with a 4-0 victory.
“I’m not a big goal scorer,” Wagner said. “That isn’t really my thing. I like to make things happen, so I’d rather be that guy. When I get the ball, I’m usually looking for someone making a run, near post or far post, and giving them an easy opportunity rather than taking a wide angle shot that 90 percent of the goalkeepers are going to save.”
Target No. 1 for Wagner is typically George, Warrior Run’s swift-footed striker. George, however, is also the top target for opposing defenses and he often draws multiple defenders. All eyes on George means more space for Wagner and the rest of the Defenders.
“Their No. 15 (George) is fantastic, so we maybe we had too many marking him and we left the middle of the field open,” Hughesville coach Jeremy Edkin said. “And then the rest of their players are pretty good, too. Next time we play them we’ll do better marking everybody and not just 15. I think that was the problem in the first half.”
Wagner became a nuisance, too. He finished with three assists – on three consecutive first-half goals – as the Defenders (3-2) overcame a sluggish start to move above .500.
Hughesville came into Tuesday’s game with an unbeaten record, but Edkin knew playing the Defenders was a bump in competition. Warrior Run entered with a pair of losses – one to Central Columbia and the other in the season-opening Millville Tournament championship game.
The Spartans (3-1) held the Defenders at bay for the first 20 minutes of the first half before a few breakdowns in their backline led to three goals in an eight-minute span.
“Coach told us they were on a hot streak coming in so we knew they were going to put up a good fight and they did for the first 20 minutes and had us on our heels,” George said, “but we pushed through and got them.”
Warrior Run’s first goal was the familiar combination of Wagner to George. Wagner slid a pass to George after he made a small 5-yard run in the box and finished with a strong shot to the far corner of the goal. George, who sailed one wide and high in the opening minute of the game, didn’t make a mistake with this strike.
“If I have someone that can slip me a pass right in front of the goal…. I think anyone would be thankful for it,” George said.
Less than 7 minutes later, Wagner connected with Alex Wehr on a similar play in the box, sliding a simple pass to the senior. The short connections between Wagner and his teammates were important on Tuesday as the burnt grass on Warrior Run’s home field made the playing surface play like the speed of a turf field, only with a few more unexpected bounces.
Wagner wasn’t done showing his play-making ability and this time he showed off his natural left foot.
A minute after Warrior Run made it 2-0, Wagner struck a strong and clean cross with his left foot that found the boot of freshman Hunter Confair after his strong run from his defensive center midfield position.
Hughesville proved to be a little dangerous in the opening moments of the second half, but George took advantage of a mistake and worked his way behind the Spartan back line for a 1-one-1 chance against the keeper and the senior buried his second goal for a 4-0 lead.
Warrior Run’s Jason McWilliams stopped six Hughesville shots for the shutout. Hughesville, which averaged over 30 shots and six goals a game, was held below 10 shots yesterday.
“They are a really good team and we knew it was going to be really tough when we came here, but we thought we’d play better,” Edkin said. “We really laid an egg in the first half. It wasn’t up to our standards. We were playing well, but we always have trouble when we come here.”
The Spartans will get a chance to rebound on Thursday night as they play Mount Carmel for the second time in five games before entering a grueling portion of the schedule that includes games with Central Columbia, Loyalsock, Selinsgrove and Montoursville over the next two weeks. Hughesville defeated the Red Tornadoes, 10-0, on Saturday.
WR – Elias George (Masen Wagner), 23:36; WR – Alex Wehr (Wagner), 30:14; WR – Hunter Confair (Wagner); WR – George, 62:59.
Corners: H – 1, WR – 1. Shots: H – 8, WR – 12. Saves: H – 3, WR – 6. Goalies: Hughesville (Jesse Bergen); Warrior Run (Jason McWilliams).
Records: Warrior Run 3-2, Hughesville 3-1. Next: Hughesville vs. Mount Carmel, Thu.; Jersey Shore at Warrior Run.