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Weir girls overcome adversity, St. C. for emotional 3-2 victory

Red Riders play first game since teammate killed, score late to win

ST. CLAIRSVILLE’S Mikayla Hendershot (18) controls the ball as Weir’s Isabella Aperfine defends during Monday night’s match at Red Devil Stadium. The Red Riders won, 3-2.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The soccer Gods were definitely smiling down upon Red Devil Stadium Monday night.

Weir, playing with heavy hearts in its first game since the tragic death of a beloved teammate last Thursday, scored an ‘angel-like’ goal in the 77th minute to defeat St. Clairsville, 3-2, in girls action. Ironically, No. 3 was Madison Crowe’s number.

“This win means a lot,” Weir head coach Jeremy Angelo acknowledged. “The day it happened we took the next two days off. We didn’t do anything. I told the girls to tell me when they wanted to start (playing again). We practiced a little bit Saturday and they kind of ran it. During the practice we decided we wanted to play. Tonight they came, they played they conquered.

“I told them before the game that they had already won, no matter what happened in the next 80 minutes,” he said of overcoming the tremendous adversity these young ladies were faced with.

“You are doing something right now that no one thought was possible.

“For everyone that is back home (in Weirton) and hurting, this win is for you,” he stressed. “I told them every time they got tired to look up. A couple of them were looking up … looking for that inspiration, and we got it in the final couple of minutes.”

Crowe, a sophomore defender for the Lady Riders, was killed in a shooting along with her mother. The Red Riders (3-3-1) hung her No. 3 jersey on the fence behind their bench and Angelo coached in a light blue memorial t-shirt with MADFLO (her nickname) on the front and her No. 3 between a set of angelic wings on the back.

With the score knotted at 2 and seemingly headed for a tie as time ticked down, someone up above had other plans.

Jules Glodowski’s shot through a scrum of players from point-blank range caromed off of a St. Clairsville defender’s head and re-directed past goalkeeper Jaeda Nowak as the Red Riders celebrated.

“I think someone up above was looking out for us tonight,” Angelo allowed. “Sometimes it better to be lucky than good, but we’ll definitely take it.”

The loss was the second straight for the Red Devils (8-3-1) on their home pitch, and head coach Wes Stoner isn’t sure why.

“We started slow. We were quiet slow and maybe it was because of all the stuff that was going on, but that’s no excuse. They (Weir) were probably in the same situation.”

Weir played the first three minutes with 10 players.

“That is what we’re going to do for the rest of the season,” Angelo explained. “We’re playing those first three minutes for her.”

Four minutes after having the full allotment of players on the field, the Red Riders struck.

Sophomore Ava Taylor lofted the ball towards the net from just outside the top of the box. The ball sailed over the outstretched hands of Nowak for a 1-0 advantage.

It stayed that way until freshman Olivia Baker put the visitors on top 2-0. Dribbling the ball down the left side of the pitch, she eluded a defender near the top of the box before letting loose a cannon that slipped between Nowak and the post to her right early in the 39th minute.

St. Clairsville grabbed back some of the momentum as Mikayla Hendershot stole the ball from a Weir player just inside the Red Riders’ box. The senior unleashed a blast from the right side that rolled along the artificial surface and slipping into the far corner as a diving Weir goalkeeper Alexis Adams couldn’t get to it late in the 39th minute.

“The goal helped, obviously. It gave us some momentum and we felt good after it, but, for some reason, we were a little bit off of our game tonight,” Stoner said. “We didn’t trust ourselves. We might have still been thinking about Saturday, I’m not sure. But it’s something we’ve got to get fixed quick.”

However, the Red Devils weren’t able to sustain that momentum but kept plugging away.

They finally drew even in the 62nd minute when Hendershot took a drop pass from Emily Thompson and sent the ball off the right pipe-crossbar connection where it dropped into the cage.

That goal set the stage for the dramatic final minutes.

“For us to come out and play them on their home field, I know they played Saturday and were maybe a little tired, but for us to come out here tonight and get this win was huge,” Angelo noted. “I’m so proud of my team.”

GAME NOTES

∫ A moment of silence was observed prior to the game to honor Crowe and her mother, Melissa Rowland.

∫ The memorial t-shirts, which were worn during warmups by both squads, were supplied by Swan’s Sports Shop. St. Clairsville wore red-and-black shirts.

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