Knights Just Short in Cup Final Action

Photo by Cody Tomer / Wheeling Central’s Addyson Thomas delivers a pass during Saturday’s Bishop’s Cup.

WHEELING–The Bishop’s Cup Soccer Tournament did not result in a championship victory for Wheeling Central on Saturday but the Maroon Knights left Bishop Schmitt Field with a sense of accomplishment.

Central (4-3-1) gave Charleston Catholic all it could handle by grabbing the lead early and playing stellar defense throughout the match but in the end, the Irish made just enough plays to edge the Knights 3-1 and walk away with their fifth consecutive Bishop’s Cup Championship.

“They are always good,” Wheeling Central coach Julie Barack said of the Irish. “This is their sport. They are a very good team but I think we played great. I am proud of every single one of our girls.”

On Friday, the seniors on the Central squad earned their first Bishop’s Cup victory in their careers by defeating Madonna to reach the title game, which was reason enough to celebrate.

The Knights took that momentum into Saturday’s match as Kenadee Wayt raced down the field, took a Maria Dzmura pass and found the back of the net just 20 seconds into the action.

“We always want to get out and get a lead early but I almost missed the goal because I was still explaining some things on the sideline,” Barack said. “I turned around and Kenadee scored. If we could start every game that way it would be fantastic but this team has grown a lot, even in the past few weeks.”

Charleston Catholic (6-1-1) controlled the ball for the majority of the match, peppering the net with 19 shots, while Central only accumulated five but the Knights’ goalkeeper, senior Maria Murphy, was outstanding. The Irish certainly kept her busy but she put in the work, making 12 saves.

“She is just a strong keeper,” Barack said. “She is mentally and physically strong. She is the whole package. She is a great leader in the back and the defense supports her so much. They just all work well together but Murph works hard everyday in practice and she works hard in school, too. She is a great example and a leader all around.

“All three of their goals were earned and there was nothing that Murphy or our defense could do to stop that. Nobody could have saved them. Their goals were phenomenal but our defense is second to none in the conference, if not the state. They are fast, supportive and they just know what to do. I am really proud of them for how well they worked together.”

The five-time defending champions knotted the game at 1-1 in the seventh minute when Mills Mullen darted towards the goal and fired a shot into the net.

Less than seven minutes later, Jordan Keener gave the Irish its first lead of the contest with an amazing shot from deep in the corner of the field.

The Central defense went to work after giving up the second goal and kept a strong and consistent Irish offense off the board until the 10:21 mark of the second half, when Mullen delivered her second goal of the afternoon to extend the lead to 3-1.

“We are a younger team but we want to control and possess the ball,” Charleston Catholic coach Amy Mullin said. “In the beginning of the game, a couple of our girls dribbled the length of the field and I told them they can’t do that because they will get tired. But they started getting more confident in being able to receive the ball. We need more games like this to get ready for the state tournament.”

Mullin’s first year at the helm of the Irish came six years ago, when they last lost the Bishop’s Cup to Wheeling Central, but Mullin and her squad have claimed the title every year since.

“It means a lot to bring that Bishop’s Cup home because we have lost it before and it was awful,” Mullin said. “I was really worried this time because I know that the other Catholic schools have really gotten better. Wheeling Central caught us by surprise by putting the first goal in and I knew it was going to be a tough tournament.

“The Wheeling Central goalkeeper is great. I think we truly tested her and she stopped everything we put at her.”