Redskins hang tough, but top-seeded St. Clairsville too much in second half

Kim North BATTLING — Indian Creek’s Abbey Starkey battles for the ball in front of St. Clairsville’s Delaney Florence during Thursday’s Division II sectional match.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Not only did St. Clairsville have to take on Indian Creek Thursday night in a Division II girls soccer sectional final, but the Red Devils also had to fend off Mother Nature, as well.

Following a 1-hour and 16-minute weather delay in the second minute of the match, the teams played to a scoreless first half before top-seeded St. Clairsville found its range. The Red Devils netted four goals in a 17-minute span of the second half in advancing to district action with a 4-0 blanking of the Redskins on the artificial surface inside chilly and wind-filled Red Devil Stadium.

With the hard-earned triumph, St. Clairsville (13-2-3) will travel to Wagner Field in Cadiz on Monday to meet No. 8 Beaver Local — a 1-0 victor over 10th-seeded Dover on Thursday — with a district championship game berth on the line.

The match starts at 6:30 p.m. The two teams have met twice this season, with St. Clairsville winning one and the teams tying in the other.

“We weren’t struggling. We dominated. We were moving the ball, but they (Indian Creek) just had it (their defense) packed in,” St. Clairsville head coach Wes Stoner said. “We probably had 12 shots blocked in the first half. Give them (Indian Creek) credit, however, they were getting in front of our shots. They obviously knew we could score. They had two or three girls on Alyssa (Bodkin) most of the night.”

That allowed someone to be unguarded and Emily Thompson and Gianna Nardo both stepped up. Thompson, a senior, scored twice and assisted on one while Nardo, a junior, had two goals and a like number of helpers.

Thompson broke the scoring drought in the 58th minute when she looped a rebound over top of Indian Creek goalkeeper Kylie Anderson. Anderson had denied a blast from Nardo, but the ball bounced right to Thompson who got enough of her right foot on it to get it up and over Anderson for a 1-0 reading. Nardo was credited with the assist. It was St. Clairsville’s 17th shot of the match.

Two minutes and a pair of shots later, the margin grew to 2-0 when Thompson set Nardo up at the 15-yard line. Nardo sent a laser along the artificial surface that tickled the twine to Anderson’s right.

Thompson was in the right place again in the 70th minute. Nardo sent a corner kick towards the net that Anderson knocked away. However, the ball once again found Thompson’s right foot and she did the rest.

Nardo finished off an assist by Hannah Salley to conclude the scoring in the 75th minute.

“Gianna did well. E.T. did well,” Stoner noted. “Defensively, we weren’t threatened at all. We played well all the way around.”

“We really worked on preparing for them defensively this week and that might have hurt offensively as far as getting the ball forward,” Indian Creek first-year head coach Cate Calissie said. “My girls worked really, really hard.”

Stoner praised the effort of the Redskins.

“You have to give Cate credit,” he said. “She’s done a great job in her first year. That is a much-improved team since we played them a month-and-a-half ago.”

Stoner attributed the slow start to several things.

“Some of might have been nerves. You got the pressure of being the defending district champions for the first time ever. You’ve got the added pressure of being the No. 1 seed. All of that stuff is probably in their minds,” Stoner said. “It’s not like we played bad. We were down here (in their end of the field) for 37 of the final 40 minutes. We passed the ball backwards a lot and just kept possession of it.”

It was the 10th shutout for freshman goalkeeper Rileigh Wood, who was only called upon to make one save.


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