Big Red girls on the outside looking in
WHEELING — When two teams are evenly matched, a lone mistake may cost you.
Steubenville found that out the hard way Tuesday as Linsly capitalized on an error before halftime, leading to a Athena Mariano goal — the lone one of the match — as the Cadets earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory in girls soccer action at the 16th Street Field in East Wheeling.
The game, previously scheduled to be played at Holloway Field on the Linsly School campus, was moved because of the flooding.
“Steubenville was a very good side, and I was very proud of my girls for doing what they had to do to win that game,” Linsly coach Darryl Crews said. “They fought hard.”
With both teams at a standstill, Linsly (4-4-1) finally cracked the scoreboard in the 36th minute.
Steubenville sophomore goalie Zoe Nocera did an outstanding job matching Linsly’s aggressive attack, jumping into the action and beating the Cadets to the ball. On this occasion, a Steubenville defender beat Mariano to the ball deep in the penalty box and tried to shield her, with Nocera having to stay in her net. Instead, Mariano was able to steal the ball away and found herself 1-on-1 with the Big Red netminder. The junior sharpshooter beat Nocera low to the corner for a Cadets lead.
“We expect a lot out of Athena and, when she gets that ball, she is a just a little waterbug,” Crews said. “During her Linsly career, she has scored a lot of goals like that which have been very big at the time they were scored.”
The teams traded chances in the second half, but each time Nocera or Linsly netminder Johni Lech were there to make a big stop.
Steubenville (6-2) also had a few chances sail over the crossbar.
“I thought we played hard and played well,” Steubenville coach Jared Robinson said. “We possessed the ball and created opportunities. We had one mental lapse, and that cost us the game. It hurts (to lose on that goal) and not everyone gets to see the entire story.
“I will take away the fact that my girls played extremely well and played the way we wanted them to. We don’t lose, we learn and that is what this process is about.”
With the OVAC tournament cutoff nine days away, Steubenville currently sits on the outside looking in of the Class 5A standings. Big Red lost its first game Saturday at Indian Creek.
“I was pleased because we did not play (Tuesday) the way we did against Creek,” Robinson said. “We played much more of our game, and we settled down. We can and will build off this. We are going to take care of what we can take care of and see how it plays out.”
Nocera made six saves in a losing effort.
Leech stopped three shots in earning a shutout victory. Linsly is currently second in the Class 3A-1A field and looking to secure a home game.
“We feel good to get that win but it also exposed a few things, so we have a week to work on things,” Crews said. “We told them congratulations for now, but (today) we will work on those things that we learned that we have to correct.”