Central Downs Tyler in Semifinal
Knights will travel to Oak Glen for sectional final
WHEELING — In a rematch of their regular-season finale, the Wheeling Central Maroon Knights defeated Tyler Consolidated 2-1 in a sectional semifinal Monday night.
“This game I asked the girls not to be worried,” said Central coach Charlie Schlegel. “We know we’re a better team, we just beat them last week in the last game of the season.
Central (8-13) defeated the Silver Knights (3-6-2) by a score of 5-1 on Oct. 7 and welcomed them back to 16th Street Field Monday evening.
The hosts nearly got on the board early when OVAC 1A/3A Player of the Year candidate Adriana Pompeo pulled away on a breakaway and hit a beautiful cross pass that just missed a streaking Kate Tiu. After that, it was all Wheeling Central in the first half.
Tiu had another chance at the net a few minutes later on a throw-in, but it was knocked away by Tyler goalie Briann Templeton.
Two minutes later, the Maroon Knights finally broke through when Peyton Smith set Pompeo up with a leading pass that left her one-on-one with Templeton. Running at full speed, Pompeo hit a slow roller in the opposite direction that Templeton could not stop to put Central up 1-0 at the 22:40 mark.
Tyler’s first real opportunity on offense came when Trinity Kanz dribbled past a number of Central midfielders to break onto the Maroon Knights’ side of the field. Kanz looked to have a straight path to the goal until Central defender Lily Vogrin stepped in a knocked Kanz off the ball, ending the threat.
The Maroon Knights stayed on the attack for much of the period, with Pompeo recording a number of good shots on goal that Templeton was able to save. A four-year player, Templeton was key for the Silver Knights. She made four saves in the first half alone and finished the game with 15.
“She was very good tonight,” said Tyler coach Merritt Grimes. “She usually is.”
Templeton’s lone misplay came at the 15:56 mark in the first half. She overcommitted on a Central attack and was unable to fully recover when a shot by Central’s Brooke Porter glanced off her and just barely broke the goalline to make it 2-0.
The Central onslaught continued into the second half, with Pompeo, Smith and Alexis Scott all recording shots on goal. Pompeo nearly upped Central’s lead in the 27th minute but her shot on an open net bounced harmlessly off the right post.
Tyler’s persistence finally paid off when Kanz took advantage of a scrum in front of Central’s goal and got a right-to-left shot past Central’s goalie to cut the deficit to just one with 16:28 left to play.
“It was big for us to get that goal,” Grimes said. “When we came up last week, I said we needed to get a goal just so that we knew we could get a goal. We hadn’t scored against them for a while. To get that goal last week and then to get another one today was great for us.”
The Silver Knights failed to generate many more scoring opportunities, however, and Central was able to hang on and win 2-1, advancing to the sectional finals at Oak Glen on Wednesday.
“The challenge for this group now is, can we go beat Oak Glen on Wednesday?,” Schlegel asked. “I don’t know that we can, but we were in the same spot last year and we got our ass kicked by them.”
It will be another rematch for Central, who lost to Oak Glen 5-0 earlier this season on Sept. 30.
“When we played Oak Glen earlier this year, we held them scoreless for 28 minutes and then we ended up losing 5-0,” Schlegel said. “(Central’s players) believe they can win the game, so playing that confidently tonight, the number of goals doesn’t matter, it’s the result. It’s the opportunity to get to play Oak Glen, that’s all that matters right now.”