Top-seeded Linsly won its sixth OVAC Cup in eight seasons by defeating final newcomer Steubenville, 3-0, on Monday in the boys’ OVAC Cup Final at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Linsly’s offense was held in check for most of the game by a Steubenville defense that had surrendered two goals in its first 11 games.
It also marked the first loss of the season for Big Red.
‘‘This is our state championship,’’ Linsly coach Randy Shah said.
‘‘These are a great group of guys and they deserved to win.
‘‘This is what we play for.’’
Every coach in the valley knows about Linsly’s Nader Sawtarie and the amazing things he can do on a soccer field.
Steubenville did its best to keep him off the scoreboard, allowing him just three shots.
But Linsly boasts more than just the talented senior.
Kevin Riley put Linsly on the scoreboard in the 29th minute as he deflected an indirect kick from Evan Sincavich past a diving Big Red goalie David Almeida.
‘‘I think that Nader attracted a lot of the attention so it freed me up a lot and Evan was great on the set pieces,’’ Riley said. ‘‘It was a team effort, and not just one person scoring.’’
The 1-0 lead held until the 67th minute when Senai Tesfagiorgis picked up a loose ball in the penalty box and beat Almeida.
Riley added his second goal off another indirect kick from Sincavich in the 74th minute to seal the victory.
‘‘It’s our senior year and it’s all about winning that OVAC Cup,’’ Riley said. ‘‘That’s what we came to do and it’s awesome that we did it. We couldn’t ask for a better season.’’
Added Sawtarie: ‘‘It’s great that the team can step up whenever I can’t. This is a great team and I’m glad to be a part of it.’’
Steubenville had some opportunities in the first half on Linsly goalie Erik Schmalz, but the senior keeper stepped up to the task and knocked them away.
Big Red dominated the first 15 minutes, coming out and playing with a lot of fire.
Once the second half came around, Steubenville coach Greg Bowers had to change things around to generate more offense in an attempt to tie the game.
‘‘It was a little disappointing, but this was a great overall experience for the kids,’’ Bowers said.
‘‘The main thing is that they might not look at it (today) as a good experience, but it will be a memory to take with them as the weeks go by and as next year goes by.
‘‘We had some chances early and the first 15 minutes we dictated the pace. The first goal is very important and they were able to get that and take the momentum away from us.
‘‘Linsly is well-coached, a good team and they just played their game. They play every game that way and they took it to us.’’
Steubenville was held to three shots in the second half, none that were any real threat to Schmalz.
‘‘We stepped up and played hard,’’ Sincavich said. ‘‘We shut them down and didn’t give them many chances. We got the job done.’’
The title is the ninth OVAC Cup for the Cadets.
OVAC Cup Final
(at Wheeling Island Stadium)
Linsly 3, Steubenville 0
L — Goals: Riley 2, S.Tesfagiorgis; Assists: Sincavich 2; Goalkeeper: Schmalz (5 saves); S — Goalkeeper: Almeida (5 saves).
Photo by Mike Hughes
Linsly’s Nader Sawtarie heads the ball in front of Steubenville’s Brennan Stover (6) and teammate Senai Tesfagiorgis, front, during their game Monday at Wheeling Island Stadium. Linsly won, 3-0.