Red Riders Girls Head For State Tournament
WHEELING – Wheeling Central must have felt like it had nine lives during Tuesday’s West Virginia Region One Final against Weir.
Red Riders shots were going off the crossbar and the posts, headers were just missing, and Maroon Knights goalkeeper Bri Robbins was pushing away everything she saw.
Then the second half started.
An own goal early gave Weir all the momentum it needed as the Red Riders tacked on two more goals en route to a 3-0 victory at Wheeling Island Stadium that sent them to the W.Va. State Soccer Tournament next week in Beckley for a third consecutive season.
”We were frustrated in the beginning but once we started settling down in the second half, we started to play as a team and the goals started to come,” Weir coach Jessica Yarter said. ”I think excitement was probably the biggest difference in the first half. I have a lot of seniors and they wanted to get back down to states. Once they started to settle down, we played much better.”
The Red Riders (13-5-1) couldn’t buy a goal in the first half despite numerous chances and they certainly appreciated the free one they got less than 3 minutes into the second half.
Nikki Robinson headed the ball to Morgan Cassels who was one 1-on-1 with Robbins. The Maroon Knights goalie was able to get a piece of the shot, but a Wheeling Central defender knocked it back toward the net and it trickled across the goal line for a 1-0 Red Riders lead.
”Be patient, it will come, it will come,” Yarter told her team at halftime. ”Once that went in, it was a weight lifted off our shoulders and you could see the girls take deep breaths and play how they know how to play.”
Added Wheeling Central coach Travis Vensel said: ”Ouch. We played well but they just played a little bit better. They got lucky on the first goal and it snowballed from there.”
It did in the worst way for the Maroon Knights (6-10-1).
Morgan Cassels was given another chance on a similar play, this time on a pass from Jess Derby, and made it count without the help of anyone else to put Weir up 2-0 in the 48th minute.
Milena Maragos made the score 3-0 in the 50th minute with a direct kick from 30 yards away that Robbins got a piece of but couldn’t keep out of the twine.
”Everything seemed like it wanted to go wrong,” Vensel said. ”Weir adjusted at the second half to play our trap and if you can adjust to it, you can beat it. That is something we have to work on for next season.”
Taylor Gianangeli stopped two shots for the shutout.
Weir will face the winner of Charleston Catholic and Sissonville in the semifinals next Friday. The Red Riders advanced to the title game the previous two season, but each time fell to Charleston Catholic.
”I was an assistant coach the last two years and it’s always nice to get back to states,” said Yarter, who is in her first season as head coach, taking over for Chris LeFever. ”Being from Brooke, I never got to go so it’s great to go with this group of girls.
”It seems like it will be a fresh start. We expect Charleston Catholic so it’s going to be a tough battle in the semi. It will be nice to get back down there and show them what have.”