ST. CLAIRSVILLE - The Linsly girls soccer team will take on Morgantown at 9 a.m. Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Cup semifinals thanks to a strong first half and a timely answer in Tuesday's 3-1 quarterfinal victory over Steubenville Catholic Central at St. Clairsville High School.
"I thought we played really well in the first half," said Linsly coach Erica Hall. "We played with a lot of energy and with a lot of momentum in the first half. We talked about putting it away early so that we didn't have to get down to the nitty-gritty.
"In the game of soccer, nothing is safe and, no matter how much you dominate, you have to put the ball in the back of the net. If you don't do that, you could be in trouble.
CONTROLLING THE BALL — Steubenville Catholic Central’s Maria Boston plays the ball to a teammate during the second half of Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Linsly at St. Clairsville High School in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Cup.
-- Mike Mathison
"Steubenville Central definitely wasn't going to let us go easy. They fought to the end just like we expected them to do."
Linsly had its chances to put this game away by halftime, but Central's defense and goalkeeper Moriah Vosteen stayed strong.
"We do have a really strong defense," said Crusaders first-year coach David LaRue. "We have three seniors back there who lead our defense and we have Moriah in goal. They are going to keep us in games.
"They did have the wind at their back and we knew that was going to make a difference. We definitely did have to batten down the hatches in the first half on defense."
Linsly made it 1-0 14 minutes before intermission on a Taylor Cunningham goal.
It stayed that way until Maria Boston did her thing for the Crusaders.
After a defensive error by the Cadets, Boston outraced Linsly goalie Morgan Brunner for the ball, stepped around Brunner and found the open net for a 1-1 count.
"That was a really fine play by Maria," said LaRue. "She took her time with the ball and didn't panic."
Linsly answered in fine fashion and did so 65 seconds later when Gift Chima rattled one home for a 2-1 lead with 27:05 left in the game.
"I think when they scored that goal, it was a wake-up call for us," said Hall. "We came out so aggressively in the first half and I think our energy died down a little bit in the second half."
Added LaRue, "that goal really put them back in the position of superiority. That goal took a little bit of wind out of our sails. But, our kids kept up and fought hard. They kept battling the whole way.
"Games like this just help us prepare for sectionals."
Vosteen finished with 15 saves.
"She's really good keeper," said Hall. "She's tall and lengthy and does a really good job in there."
The Cadets' Maleha Kureishy finished the scoring with a beautiful ball in the upper right 90 with 50 seconds left in the game. Brunner finished with three saves.
The No. 1 seeded Mohigans defeated East Liverpool in the opener 8-0.