Split decision

The Elkins High School soccer teams split a pair of games against visiting Preston Wednesday night in Big 10 Conference play.

The Tiger girls claimed a 2-1 victory, while the boys lost a 4-2 decision to the eighth-ranked Knights.

The girls played first and the home team controlled most of the action, turning in a good defensive effort in the first half, allowing just one shot on goal.

During that time, the Tigers had several shots that were handled easily by Knight keeper Haylee Taylor. But in the 35th minute, Hailea Harper got an open look in a crowd and rolled the ball past Taylor to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

The visitors were awarded a corner kick in the early stages of the second half but were unable to convert.

Isabella Nieves then gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead when she scored from 15 yards out past a diving attempt by Taylor.

Elkins continued the pressure before the Knight turned up the intensity. Preston’s persistence was rewarded in the 65th minute when Zoe Durr kicked a heavy ball from 25 yards out and placed it perfectly over the outstretched hands of Tiger goaltender Charlie George.

Preston managed a couple more shots on goal during the next five minutes but George handled them with ease. The Knights never really threatened in the last 10 minutes of the contest.

With the win, Elkins improves to 7-2-1 overall and 3-1-1 in Big 10 play, while Preston falls to 5-6 and 1-5.

“We played well tonight and dominated most of the game,” Tiger coach Scott Cutright said. “We played good defense and kept fighting.

“We’re not playing as well as I think we can but we’re getting there.”

In the boys’ game, Elkins had a tough task as it faced an undefeated Preston Knights team.

The contest was hard fought from the beginning as both teams ran up and down the field earning good shot chances and headers that just missed their mark.

In a dramatic sequence in the 29th minute, the Tigers had broken through the Preston defense and had a clear shot from less than 10 yards out. The Preston goalkeeper made a quick diving save but could not corral the ball. Three seconds later, another blast from Elkins sent the goalkeeper jumping high for another save.

Two minutes after that exchange, Tiger midfielder Kollin Hopwood passed to Daniel Crawford on a breakaway and he netted it for 1-0 lead.

Preston tied the game when Jake Smith’s shot sailed over the Elkins keeper.

The visitors took the lead with four minutes remaining in the first half when Alex Barlow scored on a perfectly placed penalty kick from Smith.

Preston controlled most of the second half, earning several corner kicks and shots forcing the Tiger keeper to make save-after-save. In the 57th minute though, Taylor Jennings blasted a goal from point blank range for a 3-1 Preston lead.

Smith scored his second goal on the evening for the Knights in the 59th minute from 15 yards out.

Elkins closed the gap at the 62nd minute when Christopher Bodkin scored on an assist from Mason Schoonover.

“We played with energy from the first whistle against a very good team,” Tiger coach Andy Montgomery said. “All the stats bear out a hard-fought contest. We lost focus and they put the ball in the net.

“That is the characteristic of a very good team and our hats are off to the Knights. They used their weapons effectively and we ran out of bullets.”

Elkins falls to 6-5-1 and 4-1-1. Preston improved to 10-0-1 and 5-0-1.

Both Tiger squads will return to action on Monday at home against Lewis County, starting with the girls’ contest at 6 p.m.