Mitchell kicks Big Red to victory over Brooke
WELLSBURG — Big Red soccer coach Greg Bowers has been waiting for his team to dig deep when it matters most and he got his wish Tuesday evening.
His squad came from behind to defeat rival Brooke, 3-2, and found enough energy to preserve the lead late in the game.
“It’s Brooke and Big Red, it’s a rivalry game,” Bowers said. “We came out and played well and came away with the victory. Even though it’s later in the season, with the heat, I think both teams got a little tired. Guys weren’t moving as well.
“It seemed like the last five minutes we got a little bit of our wind back on defense to get the ball out. That is what we have been looking for from this team all year, digging deep in crunch time.”
The win coming at Brooke Memorial Stadium gave Steubenville a bit of revenge, as Brooke defeated Big Red last year at Harding Stadium.
“We didn’t play well last year, and we talked about that,” Bowers said. “We didn’t match their intensity last year. This time, we matched their intensity and played hard. I’m proud of the kids and their effort.”
Scotty Mitchell scored his second goal of the game with less than 30 minutes to play, and keeper J.P. Walsh made 12 saves to preserve the win.
After Big Red (6-5) scored in the opening minute — a John Sidoriak goal 38 seconds in — the Bruins (3-9-1) scored the next two goals to take the lead.
“(Scoring early) can be a good thing or it can be a bad thing,” Bowers said. “We worry about the let down, and we did let down. We did a good job of regaining the lead, getting that third goal and not giving the lead back.”
Liam Cronin scored back-to-back goals for Brooke, both assisted by Josh Ferguson about 20 minutes of game time apart.
Big Red got an important goal from Mitchell with just less than 12 minutes to play in the first half, making it a 2-2 score at the break.
“It was good to be able to reset and know we’re going into a 0-0 game at halftime,” Bowers said. “We made some adjustments, and the kids did a great job of following those adjustments. We didn’t compound mistakes and put our heads down. Hopefully, it’s a step in the right direction. “
The pace and scoring slowed down in the second half, but the intensity did not.
“It was a hard-fought game. The intensity was there,” Brooke head coach Joe Pepe said.
“I’m very proud of these guys. We have been working hard all week long, and Big Red is a quality team. We stepped up our game, which is good to see. We were just unlucky on the scoreboard. It was what you would expect from a Brooke-Big Red game.”
Pepe, despite the record, likes how his team is battling as the postseason approaches.
“Records don’t mean anything when you play the second season,” he said.
“Our kids are working hard.”
Big Red: Travels Dover today.
Brooke: Hosts St. Clairsville on Thursday.