Crusaders ‘settle’ for 1 championship

WHEELING – Catholic Central will have to settle for one conference championship.

The Catholic Central boys’ soccer team won the Class 1A/3A regular season title, and the Crusaders entered the OVAC Cup Tournament as the No. 1 seed.

Catholic Central shut out No. 8 seed East Liverpool, 5-0, in the quarterfinals Monday evening at Brooke to advance to the semifinals against Linsly.

In a matchup of two of the top teams in the valley, the Cadets blanked the Crusaders, 2-0, in the semifinals Saturday afternoon at Wheeling Island Stadium.

“We are happy to win the OVAC division championship,” Catholic Central (11-1-1) head coach Steve Kopcha said. “We are proud of that.”

The Cadets (11-3) advanced to the tournament final against Morgantown at 7:30 p.m. Monday night on the same turf.

The Mohigans advanced to the final by defeating Wheeling Park, 2-1, in Saturday’s second semifinal.

“We love playing in this tournament,” Linsly head coach Eric Fries said. “No matter who we play, we are going to show up and play.”

The Cadets are the No. 5 seed in the tournament. Linsly blanked Big Red, the No. 4 seed, 2-0, in the quarterfinals Monday night. The No. 2 seed Mohigans will be the third-straight higher seed team the Cadets will face in the tournament.

“Being the No. 1 seed is not something special,” Kopcha said. “It wasn’t something we thought about. We were put in that position.

“We knew coming into the tournament that there were eight equally good teams in the tournament and all eight had a chance to win it.”

Since Linsly is ineligible to play for a state title, winning an OVAC championship means a little bit more to the Cadets.

“Yes, but a lot of teams want to win this,” Fries said. “It doesn’t matter about state titles. We end the season by playing in a Midwest Tournament. We play against teams that are nationally ranked. It is a two-day tournament. There are teams from places like Illinois, Ohio, Canada, New York and Pennsylvania. It is a good finale for us. It is a good way to end the year.

“We love to compete. Anytime you have the opportunity to play for a championship you are excited.

“We were disappointed last year. We missed qualifying for the tournament by a hair. Had we made it, we could have been the same position we are in this year.

“The parents held a dinner for us last night in the school library. It was catered. People brought stuff. It was a celebration. There are signs for the teams. We are excited. The school support has been great.”

Cole Holubeck and Colin Riley contributed the goals for the Cadets against the Crusaders.

“Naturally, the kids are upset,” Kopcha said. “We thought we had a good chance to get to Monday, but like I said there were eight very good teams in the tournament.

“Linsly has a great history of success in this tournament. We knew they were going to be a difficult challenge for us.”

Ross Coffers and Zach Kilwein netted goals for the Mohigans against the Patriots.

Addison Luck assisted on Coffers’ goal to put Morgantown out in front, 1-0, with 12:48 left to play in the first half.

Wheeling Park’s Nathan Mauck scored a goal on a penalty kick to tie the game at 1 with 27:22 left to play.

Kilwein scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal with 11:22 left to play in the game.

“It was a really-good game,” Morgantown head coach Joe Melia said. “We came out and played tough.

“I would have been disappointed if it ended tied at the end and we had to go to penalty kicks. We were able to come down and get one back, so I was happy.”

The Mohigans and Cadets met earlier this season with Morgantown coming away with a 4-0 victory over Linsly Aug. 31 at home.

“Every team we play we feel like we can beat,” Melia said. “The kids have to play with confidence. They have to want it if we want to be successful.”

As they did in the quarterfinals against Big Red, the Cadets played a strong game defensively against the Crusaders in the semifinals.

“Linsly is really tough,” Melia said. “They have a great center back. They are tough to score against.”

Morgantown won the tournament title last season. The Mohigans were seeded eighth in the tournament and defeated Wheeling Park, 2-0, in the finals.