ST. CLAIRSVILLE - The Big Red girls' soccer team battled Carrollton to a scoreless draw at halftime, but the Warriors recorded a goal off of a corner kick in the second half and held on for a 1-0 victory in an Ohio Division II Eastern District sectional semifinal Wednesday night at Red Devil Stadium.
"My girls came to play every game," Big Red (8-8-1) head coach Jared Robinson said. "We lost our starting center-mid to illness today at school. We had to make some adjustments. We made the adjustments, and our girls played their hearts out. They left everything out there on the soccer field.
"It was a battle back-and-forth. That was the first thing their coach said to me in the handshake line. He said, 'That was a battle.'"
Carrollton will now face Minerva game in the sectional co-final at 2 p.m. Saturday on the same turf. Minerva defeated Cambridge, 6-1, in Wednesday night's second semifinal match.
Edison will play Beaver Local in the first co-final of the day at noon.
Big Red battled from start to finish, but in the end one mistake made the difference in the outcome.
"We had to rebuild our defense this year," Robinson said. "We had some young ones back there, and we just made a rookie mistake. Carrollton was able to capitalize, and that was the difference in the game."
Big Red goalie Loren Gray played a strong game, totaling 16 saves.
Gray and the Big Red defense played well, but Big Red had a hard time getting much going on the offensive end.
"Our offense did not have any firepower, and it showed," Robinson said. "It showed with shot output.
"I could not be more proud of our team today.
"Before I got involved with the girls' team, they were 0-17. The seniors fought hard to get here. We had a winning record in the regular season, and we ended the season with a .500 record."
The loss was tough on the Big Red girls. Multiple members of the team were in tears following the game.
"They may not see it today, but after the pain goes away they will look back and see everything they accomplished this season."
The game was the final one for Big Red's six seniors - Gray, Elayna Andres, Allie Zimish, Brooke Sutherland, Casey Gentile and Farrah Marcino.
"Every single one of them will be missed next year on and off of the field," Robinson said. "They are just a great group of girls. They are a great group to be around. They are a great group to coach. As a coaching staff, we are honored to have been a part of their high school careers."
All six of the seniors are starters leaving Big Red with some big shoes to fill on the field heading into next season.
"They all start," Robinson said. "We have become a nice little program. The girls knew what was at stake. We have no doubt that some of the younger girls are going to step up and get the job done next year."