WEIRTON - The Weir High girls soccer team saw its season come to an end Saturday at Jimmy Carey Stadium in a contest that was a microcosm of the season.
"Yes, scoring goals was a problem for us this year," said Red Riders coach Jessica Naughton. "And, that is not common for this program."
Weir finished 8-9-1 after the 1-0 defeat at the hands of Wheeling Central at Jimmy Carey Stadium to win the West Virginia Class AA-A Region 1, Section 1 championship.
FINAL GAME — Weir High seniors Jessica Derby (4) and Dominique Gilbert play defense in the second half of Saturday’s West Virginia Class AA-A Region 1, Section 1 championship game at Jimmy Carey Stadium. Wheeling Central ended the Red Riders’ season with a 1-0 victory.
The Red Riders scored one goal or less in eight of the nine losses and in the one tie.
Also not common for the program was the youth on the field.
"We have a lot of freshman who got a lot of playing time this year and that will only help us for next year," said Naughton. "I feel that offense will come next year.
"We had a lot of games where we didn't score any (goals) and that's not like us (Weir was blanked six times). It's definitely something that I had to get used to. We've had that offensive productivity from seasons before and it just didn't come this year.
"But, I fully expect it to be different next year for us."
The Maroon Knights (18-2) will visit Fairmont Senior at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday for the right to play in the Final Four the following week in Beckley.
"We figured we'd be playing them this year because we played them last year in the sectional championship," Wheeling Central coach David Cross said. "We knew what to expect today when we played them and I think that helped us a lot."
Also helping the Maroon Knights was a stop at Brooke High School Saturday morning to work out on the turf.
"This is only our second game on turf," said Cross. "We stopped at Brooke to help us get a feel for turf, how the ball rolls, being able to touch it and make passes. I really think that helped us today. The ball rolls so much faster on turf than it does on grass.
"We're more of a skill team, a finesse team, we pass really well and possess the ball, and that is a lot tougher to do on turf than it is on grass."
Wheeling Central's Aspen Matlock ripped one from about 30 yards that went just over the outstretched hands of Weir freshman goalkeeper Alyssa Kelly 15 minutes into the game.
The Maroon Knights' defense and goalkeeper Regan Blaha kept the Riders off the board.
"At halftime we talked to them about relaxing," Cross said of his squad. "It was a physical game and that takes us out of our game. We needed the girls to relax, possess the ball and make passes.
"We talk every day that if you want to keep playing you have to come out play your best and win."
Six seniors leave the fold for the Red Riders - Jessica Derby, Dominique Gilbert, Rachel Marker, Kaitlyn Williams, Monica Burdette and Nicole Pellegrino.
"Our defense was solid this year," said Naughton. "Our back line were our seniors with Derby, Gilbert, Marker and Kaitlyn. That's something we're going to have to fill for next year, but I know these girls will get it done."
Weir will return 13 players, including leading scorers Alyssa Shingle and Morgan Cassels and four freshmen.