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Crusaders top Wheeling Central, advance to OVAC final

STEUBENVILLE — The result was the same, but how that result came about was completely different.

Maria Meyer recorded four goals and an assist to lead the No. 1 seed Catholic Central girls soccer team to a 7-0 victory against No. 4 seed Wheeling Central in an OVAC Class 1A/3A tournament semifinal on a rainy Tuesday evening on the Tony Recinella Soccer Field.

“We lost to them, 2-1, last Wednesday,” Wheeling Central (3-10) head coach Charlie Schlegel said. “Our best player was not here. That made a big difference. We lost to them, 2-1, and we were ahead 1-0 with two-and-a-half minutes to go. A call went against us. I’m not bitter, I’m just stating what happened. They got a free kick, and they scored. We put our heads down, and they were able to score again to win the game.”

This time around, the Crusaders scored three goals in the first half and four more in the second half. Catholic Central played a solid all-around game against Wheeling Central.

“We beat them last week. We did not play the ball wide in that game,” Catholic Central (8-1-1) head coach Jonathan Hoover said. “We did not play the way we should. Today, we did a better job of passing the ball. We played the ball to space.”

With the win, the Crusaders advance to play in the tournament final at 2 p.m. Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium. Catholic Central will play either No. 2 seed Madonna or No. 3 seed Linsly in the finals. The Blue Dons and the Cadets will play in the other semifinal at 5 p.m. Thursday at the J.C. Williams Soccer Complex.

“We haven’t talked about that,” Hoover said asked if his team feels any pressure being the regular season champions in the class as well as being the No. 1 seed. “Our focus was on today. We take things one game at a time. We try to treat every game the same, and it will be no different come Saturday.”

The Maroon Knights played the game without junior forward Adriana Pompeo.

“They missed her,” Hoover said. “She is a big part of their offense. We expected them to try and get the ball to No. 3 (Ramsay Mansuetto) and No. 8 Danielle Agcaoili. We went out and played our game. We had a good game plan.”

Jackie O’Karma collected two goals for Catholic Central in the win, while Bella Zinno tallied one. Becca Bolster recorded an assist.Megan Brown made two saves in goal for the Crusaders.

“I think our speed was the biggest thing,” Hoover said asked how his team was able to control the ball for most of the game. “They play a lot of their games on turf. Their passes did not go as far as they are used to. We are used to playing on grass. That helped us to control the ball better.”

Liz Romanek made 12 saves in goal for the Maroon Knights.

Romanek and the Wheeling Central defense was under siege for the majority of the 80 minutes of play. Catholic Central outshot Wheeling Central, 25-2. The Crusaders took 19 shots on goal, while both of the Maroon Knights’ shots were on target. The girls in blue had one shot hit the post and another one hit the crossbar.

Catholic Central’s offensive pressure forced Wheeling Central into taking 22 goal kicks, while the Crusaders had to take only four. The victors reached double digits in corner kicks, while the visitors did not attempt one.

“We played better in the first half today than we did in the game Wednesday,” Schlegel said. “Today was just not our day.”

The Crusaders are going to treat the next few days as they normally would as they prepare to play in the tournament final.

“We are going to practice like we normally do,” Hoover said. “We are going to try and watch the Madonna-Linsly game Thursday. We are going to treat this like a normal week.”

Wheeling Central is scheduled to play again Sept. 30 at Oak Glen in a makeup game.

In Class 4A, Tuesday’s semifinal featuring No. 1 seed Oak Glen and No. 4 seed Harrison Central was canceled. Oak Glen will now play either No. 2 seed St. Clairsville or No. 3 seed Beaver Local at 10 a.m. Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium. The Beavers and the Red Devils play in the semifinals Thursday at Red Devil Stadium.

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