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RDA Star Tresz McLeod Sparks Wheeling Park at Pine-Richland Tournament

Tresz McLeod, Wheeling Park / Riverhounds ECNL

GIBSONIA, Pa. — It had been over a decade since the Wheeling Park boys’ soccer team got to face western Pennsylvania competition, but their all-state striker, who cut his teeth with the Riverhounds Development Academy’s Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) side, made himself at home on Friday night.

Junior forward Tresz McLeod, coming off a 35-goal campaign in 2022, pushed the Patriots past WPIAL Class 4A champion Pine-Richland with a second-half brace in a 3-0 win to kick off the 25th annual JRK Memorial Classic at Pine-Richland High School.



Whereas last year’s Pine-Richland boys began their Cinderella story with consecutive clean sheets in their prestigious home tournament, the 2023 squad got a reality check from the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference (OVAC) champions, who have begun their season with three in a row.

McLeod had been double-teamed much of the night, but in the 48th minute, he suddenly found an exorbitant amount of space deep in the attacking third. He dribbled into the box and slid a shot underneath Pine-Richland keeper Cadan Bennett that just barely crossed the line and tucked inside the left post to double his team’s lead.

Five minutes later, McLeod found his familiar spot on the right wing and pushed a ball through the legs of Bennett, who, again, tried stooping to make the save, but instead saw the reigning OVAC Player of the Year salt away the victory for the out-of-state visitors.

“He plays soccer 365 days a year. He trains at home, he trains with the top clubs in Pittsburgh,” head coach Mario Julian said of his work ethic. “This year he joined Beadling Soccer Club, and last year he was on the Riverhounds’ [developmental] club, so he seeks out competition. The bigger the stage, I think he comes to play.”



“We just talked about believing in each other, and playing hard. We know what we’re capable of,” said McLeod. “We wanted to show that, where we’re from, we can play too, and we played an amazing team, with amazing players.”

Despite trailing after the first half, the Rams defended resolutely for most of it. Co-captain Matthew Koss anchored a back line that protected their keeper throughout, and bailed him out by walling off a free kick from a dangerous spot.

Matteo Gattesco, who set up McLeod’s first goal, earned another, more questionable free kick from a harsher angle in the 35th minute. Substitute forward Spencer Zoladz got the last touch on Gattesco’s ball to the far post to break the deadlock for Wheeling Park.

Pine-Richland, after yielding a pair of corner kicks early in the half, generated a quality chance on their first corner, but Ethan Wygant deflected the in-swinging ball over the bar.

The Rams, struggling to build up possession, were finally able to sustain pressure when the Patriots sat back with their comfortable lead. But junior goalkeeper Gavin Border made a leaping save on Koss off a long free kick late in the second half, and later scrambled to deny Mark Cashman and Finn Kichi on a frantic sequence to preserve the shutout.

“We’re hoping that it brings our kids belief that they can play at the very highest level,” Julian said. “Our goal every year in West Virginia is to win a state championship.

“Playing in a tournament with the caliber teams Pine-Richland brought here is a great opportunity for us.”

Wheeling Park next takes on Franklin Regional of WPIAL Class 3A at the Ram Cage Saturday afternoon at 4:15.

In further JRK Classic action, Pine-Richland meets North Catholic, another Class 3A side, at Pine-Richland Stadium. Live coverage on the Pittsburgh Soccer Now YouTube channel begins shortly before 7:45 p.m. EDT Saturday.

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Glory on the Grass

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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