ST. CLAIRSVILLE - For the third time this season, St. Clairsville has been shut out by a West Virginia team in girls' high school soccer action.
Now, these aren't your ordinary Mountain State squads. The likes of Brooke, Linsly and Wheeling Park are staples of the SSAC and OVAC.
The Patriots (5-3) added their name to the list with a 3-0 blanking Thursday night on the artificial surface at Red Devil Stadium.
However, first-year Red Devils' (5-3) coach Wes Stoner wasn't disappointed in his team's effort at all.
"That's our only three losses," Stoner said of the aforementioned teams. "We're getting better as the season goes along. You can see it. We went from a 7-0 loss to Brooke to a 6-0 loss to Linsly to this game, and this is a Park team that beat Brooke.
"It's getting where I want it to be," he said of his team's performance. "Obviously, it's not there yet because they (Park) controlled a lot of that game."
Indeed, the Patriots did. They had a whopping 17-3 advantage in shots, as they limited the hosts to one shot in the first half and two in the second.
"We've been working on our defense a lot this year," Wheeling Park head coach Aubrey Taylor said. "We want the girls to get stronger as the season goes on, and it looks like they are doing just that.
"We're moving the ball around a lot and we're trying to keep that consistent with good passes and good movement off the ball," he added.
Taylor's daughter, Briella, a junior midfielder, scored the only goal that Wheeling Park needed. She sent a laser over top of St. Clairsville goalkeeper Brianna Sowers and into the top left corner of the net from 22 yards out at the 22-minute, 30-second mark of the first half.
"That was a great shot," he said with a smile. "That was a good finish and we've been looking for that type of shot. Most of her shots so far have been like chip shots, but that shot was driven. That was a good goal to start it out."
On the Patriots next shot, Mikia Mueller controlled a loose ball in the box and punched it along the turf just inside the left post and past a diving Sowers for a 2-0 reading that stood at the half.
St. Clairsville didn't record its first shot until just over 10 minutes remained. Eberle Ferrell's dribbler to the net was easily scooped up by Patriots' senior goalkeeper Devyn Nickerson.
The Red Devils did threaten once more before the half ended as Halee Callarik had the ball deep in Wheeling Park territory, only to lose possession to the tenacious Patriots.
Wheeling Park's third goal came as a result of a mental error on the Red Devils' part. St. Clairsville failed to touch a rolling ball that went out of the end line, resulting in a corner kick by the visitors.
Although they didn't score on the attempt, Valerie Julian was there to chip the ball over top of Sowers for the third tally.
All three goals were unassisted.
"That's a fantastic team," Stoner allowed of the Patriots. "I just told my girls that I'm extremely proud of the way we played. I said 'forget the scoreboard.'
"The girls are listening. They're adapting, especially in the second half," he continued. "A lot of people are buying into what we're trying to do. They see it working, so they keep on trying it and trying it. Repetition is going to get it done."
Sowers was called upon to make 14 saves on 17 shots.
St. Clairsville hosts Indian Creek Tuesday.
Wheeling Park 3, St. Clairsville 0
WP-Goals by: Taylor, Mueller, Julian; Goalkeeper: Nickerson (3 shots, 3 saves)
SC-Goalkeeper: Sowers (17 shots, 14 saves)