Linsly tops Big Red

WELLSBURG – The game lived up to the hype.

Everyone in attendance expected a hard-fought match, and that is exactly what they saw when Big Red and Linsly met in an OVAC Cup Tournament quarterfinal Monday night at Brooke.

The fifth-seeded Cadets scored two goals in the second half en route to a 2-0 victory over No. 4 seed Big Red.

Mason George (23-minute mark) and Jae Wook Ahn (4:52 left in game) netted goals for the Cadets.

“It was a great shot,” Big Red head coach Greg Bowers said about George’s goal. “He is a great player. He’s special. He has been doing that all year. I thought we played an outstanding game on defense.”

Linsly (10-3) will meet top-seeded Catholic Central in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium. The Crusaders (11-0-1) advanced to the semifinals by blanking East Liverpool, 5-0, in Monday’s first quarterfinal matchup.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Linsly head coach Eric Fries said. “We were excited to play. This is the tournament. Both teams were pretty even. That is what you expect from a game between the fourth and fifth seeds.

“I have a good group of seniors.

“Two years ago, they beat us 1-0. It was the same time. It was the 7 p.m. game.

It was the same day. It was the second game on Monday. They had the advantage that day, but we were able to get revenge. Our kids wanted that.

“We are coming off of two big wins. We beat Wheeling Park and Charleston Catholic. The kids just have to believe in themselves. They are believing, and they are fighting.”

Daniel Truong made five saves in goal for the Cadets.

Big Red used two goalies in the game. John-Paul Duff started in goal, and he made six saves. Duff was replaced in the second half by Bryan Brown. Brown did not make a save. Duff came back into the game as a player on the field.

“We knew they were skilled,” Bowers said.

Ahn’s goal came with Brown in net.

“What do you have to lose? You have to push guys forward,” Bowers said. “We are not in that situation a lot. It’s hard to practice. They made the play.”

The Cadets outshot Big Red, 13-5. Linsly had nine shots on goal to Big Red’s five. Big Red took 13 goal kicks, while the Cadets took six. Linsly had three corner kicks, while Big Red had one.

“The kids have come together,” Fries said. “You have Cory (Cunningham) on the left side. He is skilled. He opened things up for us. Mason is doing a good job finishing. He is doing a good job scoring goals. He scored his 18th goal tonight. The other forward up front, Jae, brings tenacity. He creates chances for us. Then, you have got Colin Riley in the middle of the field. He’s tough.

“On defense, our sweeper and goalie are steady. They have been all year. They create from the back.”

At times this season, Big Red has struggled scoring goals, and that was once again a problem against the Cadets. Big Red was also held without a goal in a 0-0 tie Saturday at Catholic Central.

“That is something we are trying to fix,” Bowers said. “We have not been able to score goals lately. We are going to have a week off. We are going to practice and get ready for the state tournament.”

The Crusaders defeated the Cadets earlier in the season.

“We are looking forward to playing Catholic Central,” Fries said. “It is going to be a difficult game. They have a good player. We are going to see what we can do. I am proud of the kids. Hopefully, we have two more games to play.”

Big Red will play Monday at home against Indian Creek at Harding Stadium.