WHEELING - You don't have to be a soccer expert to know if you shorten a field, and put pressure on the opposing defense, good things are going to happen.
Such was the case Tuesday, in Wheeling Central's 3-0 win against visiting East Liverpool.
The Maroon Knights kept the ball on the offensive side most of the evening, pressuring the bench-strapped Potters. The ball was on the East Liverpool side of the field almost exclusively in the second half.
Wheeling Centrals’ Stephanie Fike (5) and Mackenzie Smith (11) try to control the ball against East Liverpool’s Mariah Miller (5) as Alex Cunningham (2) looks on.
"That is our goal in every game, to possess the ball," Wheeling Central coach David Cross said. "(The opponent) can't score if they don't have the ball on their side of the field."
The Knights met their coaches goal, and then some.
So crisp was the Wheeling Central play, it was a non-scoring play that pleased Cross the most.
"On one possession in the second half we had six passes and ended up getting a shot out of it," Cross said. "That was a beautiful possession. It's something we've worked on quite a bit."
Speaking of goals, they got the literal kind as well.
Maria Miller started the scoring seven minutes into the game, and freshman Monica Minor followed 12 minutes later to give Central a 2-0 lead at the half.
It was Minor's first career goal.
"That was nice to see," Cross said. "We're really excited about our freshman class. To have four girls who have played soccer their whole lives, out of a student body of just a few hundred students, that is a good sign."
Sophomore Cate Calissie had the Knights' third goal early in the second half.
It was more than the possessive Central team needed.
The depth-deprived Potters, who have just one reserve, never could get things going.
"It's really tough," East Liverpool coach Katie Smith said. "With one sub, even when they do something wrong I can't really call them off the field to tell them what they did wrong. I give credit to Wheeling Central. They played a great game. Number 3 (senior captain Bailey Clark) had a great game (on defense) for them."
It was a long evening for Central keeper Regan Blaha, who spent a lot of time alone on goal. She saved the three shots the Potters got off.
Wheeling Central attempted nine shots, eight of those on goal.
East Liverpool keeper Chelsea Possage did an admirable job in goal for the Potters, making 13 saves, keeping the damage at a minimum, considering where the ball was most of the game.
Central improved to 2-0 with the win, and the Knights travel to Trinity in Morgantown today.
East Liverpool (1-2) will battle Harrison Central Saturday.