WHEELING - By the time the second half of Saturday's OVAC Girls' Soccer Cup semifinal started, fans of both Linsly and Morgantown were wondering if anything was ever going to give between the two clubs.
Less than two weeks earlier, they played to a scoreless tie and there they were 40 minutes into another one, where there had been really only one legitimate scoring chance to speak of.
The Cadets' Sunny Kureishy and Morgan Brunner had seen enough. When they were presented with what amounted to Linsly's best - and maybe its only - scoring chance, they didn't miss.
Photo by Jim Elliott
Morgantown’s Maria Ratcliff, left, is in a race for the ball with Linsly’s Catherine Stephens during action of their OVAC Cup semifinal Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Awarded a free kick, Kureishy put some air under it on the left side of goal and Brunner, who was in an out of the game because a nagging injury, had her noggin in just the right place to redirect it to the right side of the goal and beat Mohigans goalkeeper Katey Sharpe with the game's lone score with 29:01 remaining as Linsly escaped to the tournament's final with a 1-0 victory.
''Morgan got under it and headed it in like she's done all season,'' Cadets coach Erica Hall said of her star player, who is nursing a minor foot injury.
The Cadets will play Brooke, a team they lost a 4-2 decision to last week Monday night's championship game.
Morgantown largely controlled the first half of play, managing to get off a footfull of shots, while keeping Linsly without one.
At that point, the Mohigans' best chance to score came midway through the first half when Maria Ratcliff was turned away by Linsly keeper Vivian Allison at point-blank range after Ratcliff squirted free in front of the goal, received a needle-threading pass, and sent a beebee toward Allison. The freshman was up to the task and easily put it in her back pocket to thwart the threat.
After Brunner's goal, the plan was obvious for Linsly. Play keepaway.
''I thought we were overplaying our defense,'' Hall said. ''We know how good Morgantown is.''
Still, for the most part, the Cadets succeeded, save for a harrowing stretch near the 21-minute mark when the Mohigans had a free kick of their own. That one said over the net, but Morgantown quickly got it back and Allison Patrick clanged a close shot off Allison's hands onto the waiting foot of a teammate, who missed a golden opportunity.
So just as Morgantown's Ashley Neal was coaching against her alma-mater in the semifinal, Hall will do the same against hers in the final.
''It won't be the first time,'' she said.
In last week's meeting, Michaela Hinerman scored two goals for the Bruins.