DEVOLA - The Marietta Tigers celebrated their senior night with a huge, 3-2 East Central Ohio League victory over the Zanesville Blue Devils Tuesday night at the Devola Soccer Complex.
Tiger seniors Brent Huck and Jacob Holdren each scored a goal as the Tigers pulled even with Zanesville for second place in a wide open conference battle.
MHS grabbed the early lead when Huck drilled a long free kick over the head of Zanesville goal keeper Eric Walker and into the net for a 1-0 Tiger lead with just over five minutes gone in the game.
"That goal by Brent (Huck) was huge," said Marietta head coach Todd Morris. "To get one that early kind of let us exhale and put them behind the eight ball really quick."
Another Tiger senior, goalkeeper Eric Pierce played his usual solid game guarding the net and his diving save of a Zanesville shot on goal with 27 minutes to play in the half protected the Tiger lead.
The Devils did manage to tie the game with just under 15 minutes to play in the half when Neil Edwards long shot just escaped the outstretched arms of Pierce to make it a 1-1 game.
MARIETTA 3 ZANESVILLE 2
at Devola Soccer Complex
Zanesville (8-3-3) 1 1 - 2
Marietta (10-2-1) 2 1 - 3
M: Brent Huck unassisted goal 5th minute
Z: Neil Edwards unassisted goal 25th minute
M: Jacob Holdren goal (Max Suckel assist) 38th minute
M: Suckel goal (Holdren assist) 12:42
Z: Brandon Nguyen goal :46
Shots on goal: Z:13 M: 21
Keeper Saves: Z: 13 (Eric Walker), M: 7 (Pierce).
Penalties: Z: 7, M: 6.
Corner Kicks: Z: 3, M: 2.
Next game: Marietta at Medina Thursday.
The orange and black battled right back and took the lead with just over a minute to play in the half.
Junior Max Suckel attempt at a goal bounced off the goal post but senior Jacob Holdren found a way to get the ball into the net against several Zanesville defenders for the 2-1 Tiger lead.
"The ball bounced back off the cross bar and Jacob just wanted it more than any one else," said Morris of the second Tiger goal of the half.
Both teams had several missed opportunities in the first half as the Tigers got off 10 shots on goal while Zanesville fired nine.
The Tigers seemed to be much more aggressive in the second half as they fired 11 shots to just four for Zanesville, including one that found the back of the net off the leg of Suckel, with an assist from Holdren for what proved to be a very big insurance goal with 12:42 to go in the game.
Zanesville rallied for a late goal by Brandon Nguyen with 46 seconds to play in the game but it would be too little too late for the Devils.
"We knew coming down it would be a tough contest," said Zanesville head coach Steve Randles. "We felt like we didn't capitalize on opportunities. We were trying to get an equalizer to tie it up but they got the third one before we got our second goal and that was the way it ended."
Depending on how the tournament seedings shake out, the game may have been the final home game for Tiger seniors' Pierce, Huck, Holdren, Brennan Uhrig, Skylar Miracle, Tanner Rake, Clay Mason and Ian Hazelton.
"This group of seniors has been very successful. They have won three league championships and a district championship as freshmen," said Morris. "They are just a great class and I love them. They work hard and they are a fun group and they are going to be missed."
Morris has not given up hope yet of his team capturing their fourth ECOL title as the win over Zanesville puts them in a three way tie for second place with the Blue Devils and Dover with identical 4-1-1 records just behind Coshocton who began play Tuesday with a 3-0-1 conference mark.
In addition to the league title Morris feels his senior group has one other goal in mind.
"I think they have a good tournament run in them and I think they feel that way too," said Morris.
Next up for the Tigers is a tough non-conference battle on Thursday night at Medina, a team that is ranked eighth in the Division 1 rankings with a 6-0-5 season mark.
"It should be a real good challenge for us," said Morris.
The win was the sixth in a row for the Tigers and improved their season mark to 10-2-1 while Zanesville dropped to 8-3-3 with the loss.