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Rematch goes to the Red Riders

Weir High storms to 7-1 win over Madonna, advances to sectional final

IN PURSUIT — Weir High’s Olivia Bine races up the field with the ball while Madonna’s Sofia Teresa-DiBacco pursues during Wednesday’s Class A/AA sectional match at Oak Glen. -- Andrew Grimm

NEW MANCHESTER — The Blue Dons may have won the City Championship, but the Red Riders got their revenge when it mattered most.

In a game that was far different than the defensive struggle that was the first time the teams met, Weir High, the No. 3 seed, scored early and often to win Wednesday’s Class A/AA Region 1, Section 1 semifinal on the turf at Oak Glen, 7-1, over No. 2 seed Madonna.

“It makes losing that one feel a little better, but they still have the trophy for a year,” Weir High head coach Jeremy Angelo said. “It was easy motivation. We talked Monday night (after Weir defeated Magnolia in the sectional opener) and told them just come in here and play the way we’ve been playing, pass, move and finish our opportunities.”

The win gives the Red Riders (8-8-3) five wins in the last six games.

“That is what you want to do, you want to get better as the season goes along,” Angelo said.

“We had a rough start and just kept plugging away. We kept working at it. The girls have responded after the first half of the season and come a long way.”

After an early Madonna (9-10-1) chance didn’t connect, Reagan Hoover opened the scoring in just the fourth minute, making things clear early it was not going to be anything like the 1-0 loss to the Dons on Sept. 18.

“The early goal was the big difference,” Angelo said. “They had a shot, Rayna (Hoover) made one of her two saves and we took it down the other way, got a corner and got the goal. That kind of shocked them.

“Then, we just kept the pressure on. They got an early goal the last time we played and bunkered down and made our life very difficult. This time, we got a goal early and they had to come out a little bit and that opened up some lanes.”

Jules Glodowski and Sarah Stewart scored goals less than a minute apart in the 14th and 15th minutes to make it 3-0, then Olivia Baker made it 4-0 in the 35th minute for a comfortable cushion at the break.

“It was not the night we were hoping for,” Madonna head coach Bob Kolanko said. “Weir High came out and played very hard, they were aggressive and very physical. They made some great passes, every one of their first four goals was off really good passing they built up very well. That is something we cannot do and did not do. We played a lot of kick ball, kicked the ball straight out of bounds and straight to them.

“We did not play our best game today. Mistakes (in the tournament) cost you your season.”

Madonna’s Gabriella Spickard scored in 43rd minute to make it 4-1, but the Red Riders quickly answered back as Baker connected less than two minutes later to make it 5-1, then about two minutes later, Lexie Fayak found the back of the net to leave little doubt about the outcome.

“That was big to answer,” Angelo said. “We talked about at halftime not letting them come out and get one because that gives them some momentum and emotion. They got it, but we went down and put another one in and that kind of stopped that.”

Baker scored again in the 56th minute to enact the running clock rule with the six-goal margin.

“The girls tried hard in the second half, we for that goal, but then we kind of forgot to play defense after that and gave them three really easy goals,” Kolanko said. “No, we’re not (built to play from behind). We’ve got one attacker, maybe, so you get down one or two goals, the defense is scrambling back there, there is no possession in the middle of the field. You can’t score without possession”

SENIOR FAREWELL

Kolanko’s club loses four seniors, each of whom played a valuable role for the Blue Dons.

They are Sofia-Teresa DiBacco, Angelina Spickard, Kristeno Lesho and Isabella Pulice.

“Losing seniors is always tough,” Kolanko said. “I get asked why I keep coaching after all these years, my kids are grown now … why am I still here? I’m here because you work with these kids from the time, they are freshmen, and by the time they are seniors you have that bond with them, that mutual respect.

“You hate to lose them. We don’t have 20 girls, so every girl here is important. It’s personal. You work with and mold them for four years and it’s tough to say goodbye.”

TOUGH TEST AHEAD

The win puts the Red Riders in Saturday’s sectional final against Oak Glen, where Angelo’s group will again be looking to pull an upset as the lower seed and avenge a loss in the regular season.

The Golden Bears, who won Wednesday’s other semifinal 9-0 over Wheeling Central, defeated Weir High 5-2 on Sept. 9.

Oak Glen has also defeated Weir High in each of the last four sectional finals, last year game being a heartbreaking 2-1 loss for Weir High after it led 1-0 at halftime.

“We know it will be a challenge,” Angelo said. “We had a good game with them the last time. They got a goal towards the end (to pull away), but it was a good game back-and-forth. We’re going to go out and give it our best.”

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