St. C. girls earn measure of revenge
Red Devils surge past Beaver; eye Oak Glen Saturday in finals
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Some wins are bigger than others. St. Clairsville’s victory Thursday night gave it some sort of vindication from last week’s draw with Beaver Local.
“We played really well tonight. The girls stepped up,” St. Clairsville head coach Wes Stoner said after watching his second-seeded Red Devils (8-0-2) defeat the No. 3 Beavers by a 3-1 count in an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 4A girls’ soccer tournament semifinal on the artificial pitch inside a cool Red Devil Stadium.
“I didn’t have to say anything to get the girls ready to play. They knew what was at stake. It was either win or go home,” Stoner added. “They’re not ready to go home just yet.”
With the triumph, St. Clairsville advances to the championship game Saturday morning at 10 against four-time defending titlist Oak Glen. The Golden Bears earned a walkover against Harrison Central earlier this week. This marks the fourth time in the last five years that the Red Devils have made it to the finals. They won back-to-back titles in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
St. Clairsville took the early 1-0 lead when Delaney Florence finished off a nice cross from Emily Thompson in the 15th minute. Thompson carried the ball deep down the right wing before sending it toward the net where Florence was there to knock it in.
Beaver Local (4-3-3) drew even in the 24th minute when Jordan Palmer scored directly off a corner kick.
“That was a good corner kick,” Stoner said. “They (Beaver) are really good on corners.”
The Beavers’ Halley Russell made a diving save to punch away a shot from Alyssa Bodkin in the 30th minute. The ball was headed just inside the near post before Russell lunged to her left and deny Bodkin.
Florence gave St. Clairsville the lead for good in the 50th minute. Bodkin fed the sophomore at the top of the box to the left of the net. She sent a high shot towards the cage that sailed over Russell and tickled the twine.
“Delaney hasn’t been a big goal scorer for us this year, but we know she is capable of playing like she did tonight,” Stoner said. “She hasn’t had many opportunities with Alyssa scoring like she has, but Delaney really stepped up tonight. She’s the type of player that does all the small things in the middle of the field, but tonight she was our scorer.”
Six minutes later, Bodkin put the dagger in the Beavers off an assist by Megan Malin.
“I felt that was one of the best games my team has played in a while. They definitely stepped up and had a good first half,” Beaver Local Local head coach Elizabeth Connor said. “We struggled a little bit to start the second half. We weren’t able to clear the ball away in a scramble (in front of the net) for that second goal.”
“I have to give them credit. Number 33 (Bodkin) was definitely hungry for some goals,” Connor said. “She was very dominant up top. They never let off the gas pedal the whole night.”
Freshman goalkeeper Rileigh Wood recorded four saves. She allowed two goals in the previous meeting on just two shots.
“Rileigh played well. We looked at tape of the first game and she learned from her mistakes,” Stoner said. “She came up big a couple of times tonight. She really bounced back.”