Linsly Advances To OVAC Semis

STEUBENVILLE – In a hard-fought battle of the No. 2 seed vs. the No. 7 seed in the first round of the OVAC Cup, the Linsly girls persisted in defeating Catholic Central, 3-1, in overtime Thursday at Harding Stadium.

It was a tremendous improvement by the Crusaders after the Cadets handedly defeated Catholic Central nearly a month ago.

“It was awesome,” Linsly coach Erica Hall said. “We played Steubenville Central early in the season and we beat them, 5-2. When we left the field that day I said, ‘I will be nervous playing them again.’ They are a good team, and they have some good players.”

Each team waited for the other to make an early mistake. Neither did and despite multiple quality scoring opportunities for Linsly, the game was tied, 0-0, at intermission.

“We switched up our entire formation,” Catholic Central coach Chris Ledyard explained. “We went with a 4-3-2, then we dropped into a diamond defense. They are too skilled and we could not keep up with them in a flat four. So we dropped Katrina Vosteen into sweeper position and slowed the game down. Then we told the midfielders, ‘You have to cover back all day.’ Then it was just a matter of could we create an opportunity? Could they create an opportunity?”

The Cadets’ Whitney Thompson lit up the scoreboard nearly 8 minutes in the second half. Linsly kept up the pressure, ringing the crossbar once off the boot of Aliya Kureishy. A trip in the box resulted in a penalty kick which Kureishy also attempted. Catholic Central keeper Mariah Vosteen came up large knocking down the kick targeted for the top center of the goal.

“If you look at all the shots we placed on goal, we were high, wide, to the keeper, wherever.” Hall said. “We had a lot of opportunities on goal. That was getting us a little frustrated when we weren’t hitting the net.”

Catholic Central’s persistance paid off tying the game by a header Margaret Beigel redirected off a beautiful long setup kick.

A new pace was set once the game was deadlocked for the second time. The girls for each squad were scratching and clawing for each loose ball attempting to gain possession in hopes of finishing the game. Despite the hard work and hustle by both squads, regulation ended in a,1-1, tie.

The winner would finally emerge in the second period of overtime.

Linsly increased the pressure on Catholic Central’s defense. This time the Crusaders could not hold strong, surrending two goals. Kureishy ripped a shot into the diving Crusaders keeper. A rebound came loose and Leona Nwachukwu tipped a kick over the sprawled Vosteen to seperate the Cadets from their opponent, 2-1. Kureisy would add an insurance goal at the 2:34 mark of the final overtime to finalize the score, 3-1.

The loss could not outshine the pride beeming from the Crusaders’ coach.

“It’s a big development.” Ledyard said. “You dream about stuff like this as a coach, because what you want when you walk away from the game is, ‘That is good as they got.’ And that was as good as Catholic Central has right now. This may have been one of my favorite games I have coached in the last seven years. It was just a great game. We knew what we had to do was challenge them enough to try and frustrate them. They have individuals on their team that are incredibly skilled. And we had to play all ball, all the time. That’s what they did.

“They had fun. They had a blast. When they came off the first half, one of the leaders of team, Katrina Vosteen said, ‘I am having a blast.’ That’s what we want to hear. As a coach I sit there and think, and told them today, ‘This is about development’. I do not care what the outcome is at the end. I want to walk off the field and say, ‘Wow. It’s so cool to see them develop and work that hard.’ “

A matchup of the second and third ranked seeds in the Cup will commence at noon Saturday as Linsly (12-1-3) faces Parkersburg South (10-2-3) at Wheeling Island Stadium.

Catholic Central (5-5-3) will battle Wheeling Central Catholic Monday, Oct 11.