St. Clairsville girls still perfect

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Something had to give Tuesday night as a pair of unbeaten girls’ high school soccer teams met on the pitch inside Red Devils Stadium.

St. Clairsville (5-0) spotted visiting Steubenville a 1-0 lead just past the midway point of the opening half, but the Red Devils responded with a pair of Macy Malin tallies in a 6-minute span before the half ended for a 2-1 margin it would maintain throughout a defensive-minded second half.

“I thought the last 30 minutes of the first half was a really good showing of what we are,” St. Clairsville head coach Wes Stoner said. “We were a little lucky though. I wasn’t happy with our play in the second half. The effort I don’t think was there. We kind of went away from our game and played somebody elses.

“But we got the win, and that’s all that matters. I’m good with that.”

Big Red (3-1) struck first as Jadyn Bennett took advantage of a mistake by the Red Devils’ goalkeeper Jaeda Nowak. Nowak came out to play the ball, but couldn’t clear it as Bennett knocked it down before blasting it into the empty net in the 21st minute.

“I was real proud, especially in the first half with their resilience,” Stoner said of his youthful squad which features just one senior. “To go down one, it was the first time we were behind this season and I’ve got a young group and they’re going to have to learn from that, but i thought they stayed with it (the game plan) well, played relaxed and stayed calm.”

St. Clairsville evened the count in the 37th minute when Emily Thompson was tripped up in the box, prompting a penalty kick.

Malin lined the ball up and sent a soft shot to the top right corner of the net that eluded the hands of a diving Big Red goalkeeper Zoe Nocera.

“The PK was nothing but an effort play by Emily Thompson,” Stoner recalled. “They fouled her in the box, but if she didn’t make that run and she didn’t sprint, she wouldn’t have been there to get fouled.

Less than five minutes later, Malin took a nifty feed from Mikayla Hendershot through traffic. She patiently dribbled in on goal with a defender on her back before depositing the ball into the top right corner for a 2-1 advantage.

The two goals gave her 20 on the season.

“Two mental breakdowns and they capitalized on both of them,” Steubenville head coach Jared Robinson said. “That’s the story of the scoreboard, but it’s not the story of the game. The story of the game is how our girls responded. They came back and battled in the second half. We’re going to hang our hats on that second half and hope to build off of that.”

Nocera finished with 10 saves on a dozen shots, while Nowak stopped six of seven shots.