WHEELING - When most people think of the Wheeling Jesuit-West Liberty rivalry, their mind turns to the basketball court. But as of Saturday night, the rivalry has found a new home on the soccer pitch.
The Hilltoppers invaded James LaRossa stadium looking to get the edge on their Ohio County rivals, but it was the Cardinals that drew first blood as Jesuit walked off with a 2-0 victory.
"My assistant coach actually said right before pregame that this is history," WJU coach Carrie Hanna said. "This is the first time that West Liberty and Jesuit will face off in women's soccer. There is a dual and a battle between these two cities and we want to make sure that we're the one's being praised in the paper and not them."
According to Hilltoppers head man Barry Chirstmas though, the rivalry has yet to begin.
"In all honesty, we're just a geographic rival," Christmas said. "They've been around 20 odd years and we're just playing with freshman. Obviously, (the rivalry is) in basketball, volleyball, it's in all the other sports. It's great for the local area that this rival is going to start now. Hopefully, they'll be a lot of closely contested games between the two."
If the first game was any indication of what was to come, then Christmas' wish will come true.
Defense was the key for both teams in the early goings as neither squad could get much momentum offensively.
It wasn't until the 35-minute mark when WJU's Erin Sheplavy found Brittany DeCapio wide open to the left of the Hilltoppers goal, that the game saw it's first offensive action of the night.
DeCapio was able to squeeze the ball right under the crossbar and over top of WLU goalie Rachel Coles to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead with a little under 10 minuets left to play in the opening half.
"It was good that we got the goal going in right before half time," Hanna said. "West Liberty was fighting hard. We just needed to put one away and make sure we just played our game. Our goal coming out of the half was to play a lot of possesion and keep control of the game to not give away the 1-0 lead."
The Cardinals were able to achieve their coach's goal.
West Liberty was only able to get off one shot in the second half compared to the Toppers five shots on goal in the first.
"I thought that West Liberty played very well, very challenging," Hanna said. "Our girls are in the position right now that we have to keep winning to keep our playoff hopes alive. They brought it tonight and got the job done."
Allison Geary was able to put the nail in WLU's coffin as she found the net off an assist from DeCapio in the 79th minute.
"It's a very, very thin line at this level," Christmas said. "In the first half, if we just shot the ball 2 centimeters under the bar, it's a different game."
Even with the loss, the Hilltoppers coach knows that his first year program is progressing.
"Rome wasn't built in a day,'' Christmas said. ''Some of the players that we've brought in have exceeded and some haven't yet. Early on in the year we had a player break a leg, and everyone complains about injuries, but when you're brand new and you have influential kids that get hurt, it makes it tough.
"I think it would be almost nieve for a first-year program to set too many lofty aspirations. We're looking to be as competitive as can be and learn from it. Two or three years down the road, we'll evaluate how we done. We got all 18-year-olds and we're playing against 20, 21 year olds and I think at times it shows. It's still a loss but there's still a lot of positives to pull from it."
Wheeling Jesuit 3
Alderson-Broaddus 2, OT
PHILIPPI - Dominic Welsh buried the game-winner in the 98th minute as Wheeling Jesuit downed Alderson-Broaddus..
Carlos Avila and Ignacio Fernandez also added goals for the Cardinals.
Bethany 3, Thiel 0
BETHANY - Lamine Blade, Daryl Fenton and Arkangelo James each scored to lift Bethany past Thiel.
Wheeling Jesuit d.
BUCKHANNON - The No. 14 ranked Wheeling Jesuit volleyball team remained perfect with a 3-1 victory against Wesleyan by scores of 25-16, 23-25, 25-14 and 25-19.
Jenna Pew led the offense with 16 kills followed by Alyssa Ware's 13 kills. Ashley Remlinger added seven kills to the mix, while Rachel Caja and Abby Wietrzykowski contributed five and four, respectively.
Denison & Allegheny
MEADVILLE, Pa. -Bethany reached 20 wins for the third consecutive season by defeating Denison 3-2 (25-27, 25-20, 25-21, 19-25, 15-11) and Allegheny 3-1 (25-15, 25-18, 22-25, 25-23) Saturday in a tri-match at Allegheny.
Taylor Cassidy, who was named the Homecoming Queen back on Bethany's campus while the Allegheny match was going on, had 20 kills to lead the Bison. It was her third match this season with 20-plus kills.
Lauren Goodwill also reached double digits with 10 and in the process, surpassed 900 for her career. With 907 career kills, she is just the seventh Bison player in program history to reach that milestone.