POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — It might have been somewhat of a different road, but the Black Knights still managed to reach an ultimate destination.
The Point Pleasant boys soccer team fulfilled a season-long quest to reach the regional finals after knocking off second seeded Sissonville 3-0 Thursday night in the Class AA-A Region IV, Section 1 championship match held at Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field in Mason County.
The top seeded Black Knights (13-3-5) notched the program’s first Class AA-A Region IV title game appearance in eight years with their eighth consecutive victory, an outcome that also improved Point’s unbeaten streak at home to 9-0-3 this fall.
PPHS picked up its 10th shutout of the season, including the seventh shutout to result in a victory. The hosts also managed to move on by being solid on all three levels of the field.
Point Pleasant outshot the Indians (16-6-1) by a 21-10 overall margin, which included an 11-7 edge in shots on goal.
More impressively, the Black Knights mustered a 12-4 shot advantage in the second half while clinging to a 1-0 halftime lead.
Both teams had a pair of decent chances result in nothing over the first 15 minutes of regulation, but Point’s continued aggression eventually produced the game-winning goal in the 22nd minute.
Garrett Hatten received a long pass in stride from 30 yards out, made a touch to slip a defender and found himself in a 1-on-1 opportunity with SHS keeper Trevor Faber. Hatten successful went inside the low near post for a 1-0 advantage with 18:20 left in the opening half.
The Indians were held without a shot attempt for just over 12 minutes in the second half, but that first shot was a point blank attempt that PPHS keeper Nick Smith somehow managed to corral.
It proved to be Sissonville’s final best chance to score … and it led to Point finding some more offense.
Tyson Richards pitched a perfect sideline ball to the mid-goal area, a pass that eventually landed in stride with Adam Veroski. Veroski made a touch to the right and fired a shot to the left side from 12 yards out, allowing the hosts to secure a 2-0 cushion with 15:35 left in regulation.
Point Pleasant provided the proverbial nail in the coffin roughly a minute later as Veroski provided a pass to a streaking Hatten down the right side. Hatten touched right to split a defender and uncorked a shot to the left side from five yards away, making it a 3-goal lead with 14:08 remaining.
Point Pleasant will host the Class AA-A Region IV championship matches — both boys and girls — on Tuesday night. The girls final will start at 5 p.m., while the Black Knights will face the winner of the Winfield-Scott boys match in the night cap.
It is the first Class AA-A Region IV, Section 1 championship for Point Pleasant since 2011, when Chip Wood was nearing the end of his first stint as head coach at PPHS.
Wood returned to guide the program four years ago, and this senior group is the first that Wood has had for four full years.
And, as the venerable mentor noted, that group of upperclassmen is one of the main reasons that the program is sitting where it is right now.
“I’m absolutely thrilled for the seniors. Those guys have put in so much time and effort over four years to get this program to this point, so they all deserve having this trophy come home to us,” Wood said. “We handled this game really well today because our defense was dominant, our keeper was solid and our offense was opportunistic.
“I’m really thrilled for the kids to have another opportunity to play in a regional championship game. Being an alum, I’m proud too. We’re just looking forward to playing at home on Tuesday night.”
Point Pleasant claimed a 7-2 advantage in corner kicks and was also whistled for nine of the 15 fouls in the contest.
Smith made seven saves in goal for PPHS, while Faber stopped eight shots for Sissonville in the setback.
PPHS had high hopes entering the 2019 campaign, but started the season with only five wins in its first 13 matches (5-3-5) — mainly due to an unlucky inability to put goals in the net. In its five ties, Point managed only two goals and recorded three scoreless draws.
The Black Knights have churned out at least two goals in each of their last 10 contests, which has led to a 9-1-0 mark over that span.
Scott and Winfield play Saturday in the Region IV, Section 2 championship.
The Black Knights did not face Winfield this season and dropped a 1-0 decision at Scott back on Sept. 10.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.