St. Clairsville Girls Edge Indian Creek in Soccer

Photo by Rick Thorp St. Clairsville’s Emily Vera (6) and Indian Creek’s Rileigh Gualtiere battle for possession during a game Friday night.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — A year ago Indian Creek and St. Clairsville battled to a scoreless deadlock in their season-opening girls soccer match. It appeared as though the Redskins and Red Devils were headed for a similar result Friday night. However, a picture-perfect cross changed all of that in the 47th minute of play.

Senior Jolie Nardo carried the ball deep into the right wing before sending the ball through a myriad of players in the box. Somehow the ball made its way through cleanly before being pounded into an open net by sophomore Bella Swan who was waiting at the backdoor. The goal ended the scoreless drought and proved to be all the hosts needed during the opener of a “Friday Night Futbol” doubleheader on the rain-soaked artificial surface inside Red Devil Stadium.

“It was perfect,” St. Clairsville coach Wes Stoner said of the goal. “It (Jolie’s cross) snuck its way through the entire box and Bella was there in perfect position and just finished it. We practice that kind of stuff and it’s buried into their heads that we need the outside midfielder to be far post. She was right where she should have been.”

Knotted at zero after 40 minutes, Stoner encouraged his troops to keep the pressure on.

“I basically just told them to keep pushing. We had a lot of scoring chances in the first half. We just didn’t hit the net,” Stoner said.

“Their keeper made a couple of good saves and … we’re getting opportunities. You can’t beat that. We just have to finish. I told them one was going to go.”

Indian Creek had a golden scoring opportunity in the 64th minute when Rileigh Gualtiere’s point-blank shot was tipped by St. Clairsville backup goalkeeper Jaeda Nowak, deflected off the crossbar and sailed out of play, resulting in the Redskins’ third consecutive corner kick. Abby Copeland’s ensuing shot went wide right.

“I told the girls on the sideline when it happened, ‘I said that’s going to be game-winning goal if we don’t let one sneak in.’ That was in the net without a quick hand to push it up and over the net.”

The Jefferson Countians also had a trio of successive corner kicks in the 70th minute, but all three went for naught.

Nowak sealed the deal when she made a pair of easy saves on back-to-back direct kicks in the waning moments.

“I hate to say that defense is our strength, but it is,” Stoner said. “It’s a senior group back there and they played well. They always play well together. They’ve been playing together four years now.”

For Indian Creek coach Joe Lewis, it was a matter of St. Clairsville playing just a little bit better.

“It was a good game. It was the type of game I expected after a 0-0 tie last year. The girls really battled (Friday). I expected St. Clairsville to be the top team in our section this year. They played like it (Friday), but I’m really happy with the way our girls played. One to nothing. It was a tight game the entire time.

“The goal they scored was a great one. You’re not stopping that one. That’s all it takes to win a game, however.”

Mackenzie Orban kept Indian Creek close with 10 saves on 18 shots.

Nowak finished with four saves on as many opportunities in the second half. Anna Woollard stopped the only shot she faced in the first half.