ST. CLAIRSVILLE - With injuries starting to mount just two games into Wes Stoner's first season as head coach of the St. Clairsville girls' soccer team, the former Red Devil standout needed something to change his team's luck.
How about a fluky goal?
That's just what the doctor ordered here Wednesday night as the Lady Red Devils (2-1) trailed visiting Edison 1-0 late in the first half and things weren't looking good for the hosts who were coming off a 7-0 shellacking at Brooke earlier in the week.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE senior Carlee Gillespie works the ball up the field during Wednesday’s game at Red Devil Stadium. The Lady Devils defeated Edison, 4-1.
Senior Taryn Barr lofted the ball deep into the Wildcats' zone from near midfield. The ball took one huge bounce off the artificial surface and barely went over the outstretched arms of Edison goalkeeper Katie Oinonen to tie the game a mere 43 seconds after the visitors scored.
The net-finder jump-started St. Clairsville to three goals in the final 11 minutes of the first half en route to a 4-1 victory at Red Devil Stadium.
"I'll take the luck," Stoner said with a smile. "After that goal, things started working again for us. The girls are starting to pickup the style of play I want them to play. It's completely different from what they used to play. It's more possession."
The Lady Red Devils made their coach look like a genius with time winding down in the first 40 minutes. Seniors Carlee Gillespie and Madison Keenan hooked up on a beautiful scoring play as Gillespie sped down the right sideline before sending a cross to the center of the box about 20 yards in front of Oinonen. Keenan took control of the ball and blasted it into the back of the cage for a 2-1 edge with 2:15 showing on the clock.
"That is the kind of combination that should be happening all the way up the field," Stoner added. "It's getting there. Everyone is still a little confused, but it's a work in progress."
However, they weren't done as Gillespie sent a laser to the net from 30 yards out on the right wing that Oinonen never got a hand on as the lead grew to 3-1 with 49.7 seconds remaining. Eberle Ferrell was credited with the assist.
"Carlee is fantastic," Stoner praised of his workhorse. "She's battling a little bit of a back injury, but she's a battler."
Gillespie concluded the scoring early in the second half when she headed in a corner kick by Ferrell for the 4-1 final margin.
"That was a beautiful setup by Eberle and Carlee went up and got it," Stone said of the picture-perfect twine-tickler.
In addition to Gillespie being a little nicked up, Stoner is without the services of two starting defenders in junior Michaela Miller and sophomore Jolyn Shunk. Both were hurt in Monday's loss at Brooke.
"Michaela is out at least three weeks with the concussion, and Jolyn is gone for the season with a torn ACL," Stoner explained. "I had to move everyone around tonight. It was a total new formation today because of the injuries."
One of those moves was switching Barr, a talented goal scorer, from the front line to the back line, but she didn't miss a beat.
"I told her that she was going to have to play defense," Stoner said. "She can play anywhere, but I'd rather have her up front with Carlee and Madison scoring goals. She played very well tonight."
Another playing drawing rave reviews was freshman Maddie Fogle.
"She's already a good player, but she's going to develop into a very good player before she's finished here," Stoner said.
St. Clairsville outshot Edison 11-7. The Red Devils' goalkeeper, senior Brianna Sowers, notched six saves, with four of them coming late in the game was the final score was already decided and Stoner emptied his bench.
Oinonen was called upon to make seven saves.
Allie Byrley scored the Wildcats' lone goal off a nifty give-and-go with Amara Proffitt.
St. Clairsville visits Cambridge Saturday afternoon.
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