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Madonna Secures Big Win For Weirton Community

Photo by Kyle Lutz Madonna’s Kristina Lesho controls the ball during Saturday’s 1A-3A championship game against Steubenville Catholic.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — For the past few days, the community of Weirton has been dealing with tragedy.

On Thursday, the town was mourning two deaths because of a double homicide. One of the deaths included Weir soccer player Madison Crowe.

With so much to play for, the Madonna girls soccer team may have provided a spiritual lift for the community.

With 5:32 left in the OVAC Class 1A-3A championship match, Maddie Daugherty got by a pair of defenders to chase a loose ball. It was a footrace between her and Steubenville Catholic goalkeeper Bri DeChristopher.

Daugherty got there a half a second sooner, which was just enough time for her to get a foot on the ball and find the back of the net.

That was the difference maker and Madonna secured the hardware in a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Steubenville Catholic Saturday morning at Red Devil Stadium.

“It was probably the most difficult week for us that I ever had to coach a team,” Madonna coach Bob Kolanko said.

“We went from the ultimate low when we got the news to the ultimate high with the OVAC championship for us. I prayed all week that the girls were able to focus and did what they needed to do. And they absolutely did. And they did it for one reason. They did it for Madison. She’s been a good friend of theirs for years. Some of these girls have been playing soccer with her since they were eight. And they came out on the field and played 80 minutes of the best soccer I’ve ever seen them play. It’s a beautiful thing for them.”

And hoisting the hardware was just a little way to ease the pain of what the Blue Dons had to go through the past couple days.

“Practice that day was absolutely crushing,” Kolanko said. “We got out there and kicked the ball around a little bit. (Friday’s) practice was much better. They started to understand a little bit and reality started to set in. (Saturday), they came out to play. Every ball, they challenged for it and we said at the beginning, ‘Pray for Flo. Play for Flo. And play like Flo.’ That was her nickname (MadFlo). And they did. They really did.”

And it was only a matter of time before someone found the back of the net. The Blue Dons had a handful of opportunities in the first half as the majority of the first 40 minutes were played on the Crusaders’ side of the field. However, strong goalkeeping by Christopher kept the score at 0-0 at halftime.

She finished the contest with nine saves.

Madonna goalkeeper Abby Macek turned in a three save performance.

“You could kind of see at the end of the first half, it was just going to take one,” Steubenville Catholic coach Jonathan Hoover said. “Both teams were relatively even. Both teams had great defenses and you could kind of see when the half went on, it was going to be a one goal game. It was just a matter of who was going to find that first goal and unfortunately they found it before we did.”

Daugherty, a senior, had never stepped on the soccer field until this year when Kolanko asked her to come out and play, even if it was just for a handful of games.

“It was her first year playing soccer,” “She’s a volleyball and softball player. And I talked her into coming out and playing for us. I said, If you could play eight, nine, 10 games because of volleyball season, I’m good with that. Come out and play.’ She ran past a couple of defenders. The goalkeeper came out and it was a footrace. And thank God her little feet got there first.”

Getting a victory in a championship match is always a confidence booster for the rest of the season. While it will be for the Blue Dons, the victory itself was something much bigger than that.

“But it was important to get this victory for the girls, the program, the whole community of Weirton,” Kolanko said. “I’m sure Madison is looking down from above right now, saying, ‘Thank you.'”

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