By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The St. Albans soccer team had the wiles to get by Princeton on Tuesday evening.
Jack Wiles scored once in each half, the last goal coming from a direct kick with eight minutes left, to lead the Red Dragons to a 2-1 win at Everette K. Bailey Field.
Princeton (2-5-1) advanced the ball often to the St. Albans end of the pitch, and got off 16 shots on goal, but Red Dragons (5-2-1) keeper Brian Knight made one athletic save after another, ending with 14 stops.
In the 17th minute, Wiles threaded his way through the Tigers’ defense and poked the ball into the right side of the net.
Almost exactly two minutes later, Princeton answered. Daniel Harman found a narrow window in the St. Albans defense and the sophomore fired a quick shot past Knight.
With 5:55 left before halftime, St. Albans’ David Atwood boomed a direct kick from near the sideline about 40 yards. The ball slammed the crossbar before it bounced up and away.
The 1-1 tie was almost broken early in the second half by Princeton senior Kade Bradley, who launched a rocket of a shot at the goal in the 47th minute. The ball bounced off the left post.
Wiles was called upon for another direct kick with 8:05 left, after a foul was called on Princeton just outside of the 18-yard box. Wiles blasted the ball into the left corner of the net for what would be the game-winner.
Princeton head coach Steve Bailey said, “We gave up two soft goals we shouldn’t have given up, and we’re having trouble scoring right now because we can’t finish.
“Our best finisher is Colton Fix and he’s out (injured), and hopefully will be back Thursday. But if you don’t finish easy shots when you’ve got more shots than the other team, and you let in soft goals that you shouldn’t be giving up, then you’re going to lose.”
St. Albans head coach Dave Ashley said, “Princeton’s a great team. Offensively, defensively. The midfielders had a lot of talent, I was really impressed with that. Defensively, they were solid back there. I mean, they were really tough to beat.”
But with Wiles on the field, Ashley had the advantage.
“He’s a very good player, very tough,” the coach said. “Jack’s one of those players, he always wants the ball, (and) he’s good at moving away from the ball. He creates all the chaos for defenses, which opens (things) up for the midfielders.”
Bradley, a senior, said about Wiles, “He had a lot of speed — but if we played right, we could stop him.”
Ashley said about his goalkeeper Knight, “He played a very good game. Defensively, I think we did pretty well.”
Bailey said, “We’ve got to possess the ball. Soccer’s about possessing the ball, and winning the balls at midfield, and finishing when you get your opportunities. We had 16 shots on goal today; they only had about seven or eight.”
“We’re really struggling right now. If we don’t start doing the things that we work on in practice, and doing them better, we’re going to continue to struggle.
“It’s not for lack of effort; the guys are giving every effort they’ve got. We cannot fault the effort. They’re giving 100 percent every game, or more. They’re working hard in practice. They just get in games, and they just do things sometimes that are not what you need to be doing.”
The Tigers will host undefeated George Washington High on Thursday. Bailey said, “They’re always very good. They’re averaging about four goals a game and haven’t given up one goal yet in nine games. We expect a real battle.”
“If we don’t step it up and play better than we did tonight, then the results will not be pretty.”
Bradley said, “We’re going to have to get more aggressive, and play harder. We can’t give up, at all. ... If we can keep our intensity up for the whole game, we’ll be a lot better.”
— Contact Tom Bone at