ZANESVILLE - The further a team advances in the postseason, the tougher the opposition gets.
St. Clairsville found that out firsthand here Thursday night at the chill-filled West Muskingum High School Athletic Complex. After breezing past Ridgewood two days earlier in Division III girls' sectional soccer action, the third-seeded Lady Red Devils (11-6) were eliminated by No. 1 seed West Muskingum, 3-0.
"It just wasn't our night," first-year head coach Wes Stoner said. "They (West Muskingum) had two set plays that they scored on, and their third goal was when I moved a defender out and put an extra attacker on because we were running out of time.
St. Clairsville defenders Valerie Dobbs (20), Brea Reitter (23), Michaela Miller (4) and Madison Keenan (21) converge on the net as goalkeeper Brianna Sowers (green top)watches the ball during Thursday night’s Division III?sectional soccer tournament at West Muskingum High School. The top-seeded Tornadoes prevailed, 3-0.
"I thought we matched up with them, but things just didn't fall our way."
The Tornadoes (11-2-4) scored what turned out to be the only goal they would need in the 15th minute. They were buzzing around the St. Clairsville goal like bees around a hive before the Red Devils cleared the ball out of the end line, resulting in a corner kick for the hosts.
Cameron Smith sent the kick from the corner to Red Devils' goalkeeper Brianna Sowers' right. A Red Devil player attempted to knock the ball down, but missed, and in the process screened the helpless Sowers as the ball trickled into the back of the cage for a 1-0 count.
Moments later, St. Clairsville had a golden opportunity when Carlee Gillespie's shot from deep on the right wing went off the fingertips of West Muskingum's Chelsey Tusing and slowly rolled to her right, but there was no Red Devil there to bang it home.
Sowers, a senior, did her best to keep the Tornadoes at bay as they sent 14 shots - seven in each half - at her, with many of them being serious scoring threats.
"Brianna has done that all season," Stoner noted. "She's saved us all year long. Even when we played a bad game, like today, she was able to keep it close. It could've been a lot worse without her back there."
West Muskingum made it 2-0 in the 30th minute when Smith's well-executed direct kick sailed into the top right corner of the net and just over the outstretched arms of the leaping Sowers.
Sharod Frost completed the scoring for the Tornadoes in the 68th minute.
"That's a special group," Stoner said of his senior class. "With my sister (Eberle Ferrell) on the team, I've known most of those girls since they were 4 or 5 years old."
St. Clairsville managed six shots on goal, but only one that was a serious scoring threat. The shutout was Tusing's ninth of the season.
"They are a very good girls' soccer team," Stoner said of West Muskingum. "They were the No. 1 seed for a reason, but I thought we matched up pretty evenly with them, except for those two set plays."
Division III Sectional
(at West Muskingum High School, Zanesville)
West Muskingum 3, St. Clairsville 0
StC-Goalkeeper: Sowers (14 shots, 11 saves)
WM-Goals by: Smith 2, Frost; Goalkeeper: Tusing (6 shots, 6 saves)
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