Red Riders blank Golden Bears

WEIRTON – Weir is back on the winning side.

The Weir girls’ soccer team tallied two goals early in the second half en route to a 3-0 victory over Hancock County-rival Oak Glen Thursday night at Jimmy Carey Stadium.

Freshman Francesca Farran netted both of the early goals in the second half, while senior Alyssa Shingle tallied a goal and an assist for the Red Riders, who wrapped the Hancock County championship by defeating Oak Glen and Madonna during the season.

“It was a great night,” Weir (13-7) head coach Jessica Naughton said. “Coming off of that loss to Brooke, we played well in the first half there only to lose 4-0. That stinks.

“We played well today.

“Oak Glen gave us fits with offside calls. In the second half, we got things under control. Our forwards watched for the offside calls better. We got two quick goals by Francesca Farran. We were able to relax. We were able to pass. We were able to move the ball.

“It is nice to see us end the season with a win. That is a plus for us heading into sectionals.”

The fast start to the second half made the difference in the outcome of the game.

“It is a typical Weir team,” Oak Glen (4-11-2) head coach Sam Paletta said. “Soccer games are 80 minutes, and we played 75 great minutes. In the first five minutes of the second half, we were not as focused as we were in the first half, and we gave up the two goals.

“Give Weir credit. They were ready to play.

“We settled down after the first seven or eight minutes of the second half, and we played like we did in the first half. Somehow, we have to fix that. I don’t know if it was because it was warm in the locker room, and then we came outside and it was cold.

“We just didn’t focus for the first five minutes of the second half, and it cost us. After that, we got back on track and played 35 minutes of great soccer.”

Alyssa Kelly made two saves in goal for the Red Riders.

“Weir is tough,” Paletta said. “They are aggressive. They have good ball skills. Any time you come down to Weirton, you know what you are going to face. They are well coached. Jess does a very good job with them.”

Casey Highfield made 11 saves for the Golden Bears.

“I think Oak Glen usually gives you about 10 yards before their last defender,” Naughton said. “Tonight, they applied a higher amount of pressure on us. I think that is new for them. I could be wrong about that, but it seems that way to me.

“Oak Glen has played with three forwards. That makes us keep one more girl back. You don’t see a lot of teams playing with three forwards anymore.”

The Red Riders’ defense did a good job of limiting the Golden Bears’ chances. Oak Glen has some new girls playing up front after the graduation of speedsters Megan Collins and Alex Burch. Collins scored more than 100 goals in her four years as a Golden Bear.

“That always helps,” Naughton said about Collins no longer playing for Oak Glen. “She was a great player. She scored a lot of goals. I’m happy that she is not there anymore.”

The Golden Bears defeated the Red Riders last season at Oak Glen.

“We played them last year up there, and it was a night a lot like this one,” Naughton said. “It was cold and rainy. They beat us, I think it was 3-1. This was definitely a well-deserved win for our girls, especially for the girls who were there last year.

“I am proud of the girls. They really played hard.

“It is a good win for us. It is always nice to beat a rival.”

The Golden Bears have played better this season than what their record shows.

“We are now 4-11-2. In our other 10 losses, eight of those games were very winnable,” Paletta said. “We were right on the edge in every one. We just couldn’t finish them. Two of them, we got off to bad starts.

“The girls keep playing hard. They remain focused. They practice hard.

“The other two coaches – Caura (Speece) and Gary (Mooney) – coach them up. They are still focused on playing.”

The game was Weir’s final regular season game. Oak Glen’s last regular season game is at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon at Tyler Consolidated.

“I am very happy with how the girls are playing,” Paletta said. “You can see they have improved. They improve with each practice and each game. When you see them doing things in the games that you work on at practice that is good to see.”

Oak Glen will open up sectional play Tuesday at home against Magnolia. The winner will play at 6 p.m. Thursday at Weir.

“Depending on who wins Tuesday, it could be an interesting game on Thursday,” Naughton said. “Hopefully, the girls will be up for it after having a long break. We should be fine. Our seniors really want to get to the sectional finals.”