picture is: Nick Henthorn
The Wheeling Central Catholic Maroon Knights can count themselves among the final eight boys soccer teams in the Class-A/AA standings, entering the Region 1 tournament on Tuesday after defeating Trinity Christian 2-1 in Saturday’s semifinal.
Down 1-0 at half-time, a Joey Barki corner in the 50th minute and Jeremy Ratcliffe’s header in the 71st minute turned the game in Central’s favour.
“It was a big win for the program, it was a big win for the kids,” Maroon Knights head coach Brian Komoroski said Monday. “We were in the second half of the game, even though we were down 1-0, we had all the energy. It was like a run down. We were playing very well, we had a lot of possession. We kept pouring, then we scored, and when we scored the first goal, they didn’t come back. They finished, and they played well. very much.”
This was the third time that Trinity Christian and Wheeling Central Catholic have met this season, the two teams have played once, and Trinity has beaten the Maroon Knights once.
The results were different in the postseason though. Wheeling Central Catholic has a 3-0 win over Weir and a 2-1 win over Trinity in the playoffs after a 7-7-6 regular season.
“Where we are right now is healthy,” Komoroski said during his team’s postseason game.
“We had a few injuries throughout the regular season. I have 15 kids that I can go with at any time, and all 15 are healthy. This gives us the opportunity to put kids in different positions, to match and play properly.”
The Maroon Knights will get contributions from veterans and newcomers this year, with freshmen like Tino Sperlazza, who had seven saves against Trinity, complimenting seniors like Jeremy Ratcliffe, Thomas Komorowski, Luke Minor, Joey Secrist, and Levi Estep .
The seniors are bringing playing experience along with their skills to the field, which will come in handy in Wheeling Central’s recent run.
“I have nine seniors, there are a few that have played here all four years,” Komoroski said. “Three of them played in the regional final, they saw the game. They were the first ones when we were here last. They have been there, they have experience, so that helps. Right now they are a loose group, which is great. They’re just playing game by game, and that’s how we’ve been playing since the beginning of the playoffs, one game at a time. “
The Maroon Knights will face Frankfort on Tuesday in the district championship in a game played at Oak Glen High School.
The Frankfort Falcons (10-3-3) reached the district championship after defeating Fairmont Senior in the semifinals, 3-2, in overtime. As Fairmont Senior has captured four straight state titles, Tuesday will see the freshman win from Class-A/AA Region 1 for the first time since 2019.
This is Frankfort’s first sweep of the regional finals, and Wheeling Central’s first trip since 2020.
Wheeling Central hasn’t played Frankfort this season, but Komoroski said his opponent seems familiar.
“When I watch them, it’s like I’m watching our movie,” Komoroski said. “They’re an attacking team, they’ve got a lot of talented players and athletes who are hungry for the ball, who go out and hit the ball. It’s like you’re training yourself.