Virden’s hat trick lifts Madonna over CCHS

IN CONTROL — Madonna Lonni Riggs plays in front of Catholic Central’s Abby Symington on Tuesday. (Photo by Andrew Grimm)

STEUBENVILLE — The Madonna girls soccer team set the tone early in its match against Catholic Central.

The Blue Dons scored an early goal and did not look back en route to a 5-0 victory over the rival Crusaders Tuesday at the Tony Recinella Soccer Field.

“We were much more aggressive offensively,” Madonna (3-9) head coach Bob Kolanko said. “We had been using a defensive scheme for the majority of the season, but it did not work. Today, we went with more of an attacking setup. We used a combination of different things, and it worked out well for us.”

The Blue Dons out-shot the Crusaders, 35-4.

“There was a little of that (Madonna controlling the ball) in the game, but I thought it was pretty even to be honest,” Catholic Central (1-10) head coach Katrina Fabian said. “Madonna did step up more at the end of each half.

“Our girls are improving. I am proud of them for working on their individual talents, and I am proud of this team. Madonna turns out a tough program every year.”

MaKayla Virden netted a hat trick to lead the way for Madonna, while Kali Krynicki and Kennedy Martin each collected a goal. Angelina Baker, Lonni Riggs and Krynicki tallied an assist apiece. Abigale Macek made three saves in goal.

Bri DeChristopher made 17 saves for Catholic Central.

Krynicki contributed the first goal of the game, and Virden delivered the next three to give the Blue Dons a 4-0 advantage at halftime.

Madonna had opportunities to score more goals in the half, but DeChristopher made some big saves.

“Their goalie was really aggressive,” Kolanko said. “She came out hard and early. When you are not used to a goalie doing that, it throws you off. In the first 15-20 minutes, we had half a dozen scoring opportunities, and she was aggressive and came out early. That surprised us, and we sent a lot of shots wide due to her aggressiveness.”

Martin, who is normally a defender, contributed the lone goal of the second half.

“They were tough last year, so I told the girls to keep that in their minds this year,” Fabian said.

Though they were not tested a lot, Macek and the Blue Dons’ defense stepped up when they were needed.

“We made some changes in the second half that worked out well,” Kolanko said. “We found a combination that worked well going into OVACs. We have more speed in the back and more ball control outside, with Angelina Spickard at sweeper and Madison Bine as an outside back.”

DeChristopher also made some big saves in the second half.

“She played another great game,” Fabian said. “I wish we had more people so we could record how many saves she has. She definitely had a great game. She is awesome. She really pushes herself. She works on her game. She has a thirst to make herself better that is for sure.”

Fabian added that DeChristopher does not get down on herself when she gives up a goal.

“I have rarely seen that,” she said. “She does a great job of staying in the game. That is good to see from an underclassmen. She is mentally strong.”

The game was Madonna’s last one prior to Thursday’s cutoff to qualify for the annual OVAC Tournament.

Madonna entered play Tuesday in third place in the Class 1A/3A standing, while Catholic Central was in fourth due to Crestview being ineligible for the tournament. The top four teams in each class qualify for the tournament.

Madonna is scheduled to play at noon Saturday down at Williamstown.

“I really like the progress we are making,” Kolanko said. “We have some young players, and they keep getting better and playing harder. That is good to see. As a coach, that is all you can ask. I am impressed with our progress.”

Catholic Central is scheduled to play Thursday at Brooke.