By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Will Hickman scored two goals and Austin Smith one on Senior Night to lead the 12th ranked Princeton Tigers to a 3-1 win over the Oak Hill Red Devils, Thursday night at the Princeton Soccer Complex.
Princeton lit up the scoreboard first. In the 11th minute Hickman found the net to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. That lead stood as the teams went to the intermission.
Oak Hill knotted the match at one when Austin Nolen scored from point blank range.
Princeton challenged the Red Devils and if not for several saves by Oak Hill keeper Brett Garris, the Tigers would have opened up a big lead.
The Tigers did manage to retake the lead in the 61st minute on Smith’s goal.
“Austin Smith has 15 goals this year,” said Princeton coach Steve Bailey. “He’s one of the leading scorers in the state as a midfielder. For a midfielder to score that many goals is unusual.”
Princeton’s final score came in the 72nd minute on a penalty kick by Hickman.
“Most of our goals lately have come from set pieces like the penalty kick tonight,” Bailey said. “We don’t finish very well from the field in a regular position, but if we get a set piece where we can set up and do something with it, we do pretty well.”
Also aiding the Tigers in the win were saves by keeper Luke Lilly.
“He’s playing well,” Bailey said. “He’s improving every game, getting better. He’s understanding what to do. He understands how to come out more. The one time we did let them score tonight he didn’t come out like he could have, but that’s it. He’s going to be one of the top five keepers in West Virginia next year.”
Prior to the game the seven seniors on the Tigers squad were honored along with their parents on the field. Matt Farley, Tyler Cappa, Mason McClaugherty, Dylan Hager, Bo Williams, Ryan French and Austin Smith all played in their final game on the PSHS campus.
“Our seniors have been with us all the years, they mean a lot to us,” Bailey said. “We’ve known these guys for four years and we’ve watched them grow from little young guys who came in, in the ninth grade wide-eyed, to now people who know how to play.
“Some of them didn’t get to play much this year because of other kids that were maybe a little bit better, but they all stepped up tonight and played well. They represented the school well, they always have, always did the best they could and were good examples. We’re proud of them.”
Princeton will play Cabell Midland in an MSAC tournament game, Saturday at 1 p.m. at the East River Soccer Complex.
The Tigers open sectional play next Tuesday, hosting the winner of the Oak Hill-Shady Spring match. The Princeton girls will host Woodrow Wilson on the same evening.