WLU’s White Wins Bethany Invite

BETHANY — West Liberty’s Philip White couldn’t have had a better collegiate debut as the Hilltoppers’ talented freshman outraced everyone to the finish line in Saturday morning’s Bethany College Cross Country Invitational.

White’s impressive performance spurred Coach Justin Simpson’s resurgent WLU men’s cross country program to a second-place finish in the 15-team meet. The Hilltoppers also fared well in the women’s race, earning a seventh-place finish in a crowded 17-team field.

“Philip White will be hard for anyone to handle this year and he showed (Saturday) that he’s ready for the challenge,” Simpson said. “That was one of the sloppiest courses I’ve seen in years but I’m really proud of our effort. We came out tougher than the course.

“My girls and guys have battled illness all week. I even held out two runners today as a precaution and the team still met my expectation. Both teams’ goal is to make the podium (at the MEC championships). (Saturday) proved to me — and I think to them — that those goals are both reasonable and attainable.”

White, a three-time state champion and former West Virginia Cross Country Runner of the Year from University High in Morgantown, had no trouble navigating the soggy course to post a winning time of 26:49. That gave him a comfortable 10-second margin over runner-up Joe Westrick of Gannon (26:59). Geneva’s Josh Duffy was third in 27:09 while fellow West Liberty freshman Michael Harriman notching a Top 10 finish in a time of 28:26.

Freshman Danah Phillips was 17th in 28:54 and returning All-MEC sophomore Bryce Childers was 20th in 29:06 as the youthful Hilltoppers flashed their depth by placing three freshmen and a sophomore in the top 20.

A talented Penn State club squad led the team scoring with 35 points while WLU was all alone in second place at 79. California, Pa. (107), Gannon (108) and Geneva (111) rounded out the top five.

Two more freshmen led the way for the West Liberty women as Emily Louk was the first Hilltopper across the line, placing 29th in a time of 26:15 while Grace Henley was 39th in 26:50. Junior Hannah Ramirez just missed getting under 27 minutes, placing 42nd in a field of more than 170 runners in a time of 27:04.

VOLLEYBALL

West Liberty Women

Finish Strong With Sweep

WEST LIBERTY — The West Liberty University volleyball team brought down the curtain on the MEC/PSAC Crossover here Saturday with a three-game sweep of Slippery Rock on Saturday afternoon at the ASRC.

Coach Kayla Mull’s Hilltoppers (9-3), who had dropped a 3-0 decision to Clarion in the first match of the day, had a much easier time of it against The Rock (3-5) in the finale. West Liberty pulled away late for a 25-20 win in the opening set and battled back from a 23-22 deficit to take command with a 26-24 verdict in the second set. That set the stage for a 25-18 clincher to close out the sweep.

Senior standout Raimey Benson paced the Black and Gold with 15 kills and three blocks while Caitlin Clarke had a strong match with seven kills and a team-high 17 digs. Freshman Abbi Gillson matched Clarke’s seven kills and Benson’s three blocks. Kendall Souder just missed a double-double with 22 assists and eight digs.

In the morning match, WLU held off a late Clarion surge for a 25-23 win in the opening set but the Pennsylvania squad took control with back-to-back 25-17 verdicts in the next two sets. The Hilltoppers forced the fourth set past regulation but couldn’t finish it off as Clarion (9-3) closed things out with a 26-24 decision.

Olivia Baumhoer was the only West Liberty player to reach double-figures in kills with 10 finishes but several other Hilltoppers put up big numbers in a losing cause. Benson had eight kills and five blocks while Clarke added seven kills. Gillson had five kills and a match-high six blocks while Morgan Farley contributed five kills and 15 digs.

Amanda Leonard posted a double-double with 15 assists and 16 digs while Kailee Cunningham and Jo Lyn Jurek finished with 22 and 17 digs, respectively.

WOMEN’S SOCCER

Notre Dame 1, West Liberty 0, OT

SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio — The West Liberty University women’s soccer team dropped as overtime decision to Notre Dame (Ohio) in a mutual Mountain East Conference opener at rainswept Mueller Field.

Because of the soggy and blustery conditions, neither team was able to generate consistent possession throughout an evenly-played 90 minutes of regulation time.

The game-winning goal for the Falcons (1-3-0, 1-0-0) came in a counter-attack during the first extra time period in the 97th minute of play.

The Hilltoppers (0-3-1, 0-1-0) had just regained possession after failing to capitalize on a corner kick when a giveaway near midfield sent Notre Dame in toward goal.

The Falcons’ Katarina Doncevic, who had slammed a shot off the post during the 56th minute of regulation, led the attack down the left side and was able to slide a ball through to Na’pier Ramsey, who finished high into the right corner for the win.

Notre Dame outshot West Liberty by a 12-8 margin with Kyra McDowell making five saves to get the win in net. Lauren Hartnell and Olivia Montgomery split goalkeeping duties for WLU. Hartnell was not called on to make a save during a scoreless first half while Montgomery came on at intermission and had three saves the rest of the way.

MEN’S SOCCER

No. 6 Notre Dame 4, West Liberty 0

SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio — The West Liberty University men’s soccer team battled to the wire but couldn’t get a shot on net as unbeaten and No. 6-ranked Notre Dame coasted.

Nicholas Felician broke the scoring ice for the Falcons (4-0-0, 2-0-0) with a pretty header off a well-directed cross from Giulio Bellei in the 11th minute.

Just three minutes later, Coach Thomas Olivier’s Hilltoppers (0-3-0, 0-2-0) were victimized by an inadvertent handball in the box and Arthur Favero’s penalty kick staked the nationally-ranked hosts to a 2-0 lead before the match was 15 minutes old.

That proved to be more than enough cushion for the veteran Notre Dame squad, which has yet to surrender a goal this season. Favero tacked on another goal in the final minute of the first half and Varis Khera added another to complete the scoring with less than 5 minutes to play in the match.

The Falcons finished with a 25-4 advantage in shots and a 10-2 edge in corner kicks. West Liberty keeper Florian Dupuis made 10 saves to keep the deficit within reasonable limits. Daniele De Angelis got the win in net for Notre Dame without making a save as none of the Hilltoppers’ shots were on frame.

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