Minford’s Lexi Pendleton (23) and Rock Hill’s Chloe Long (12) battle for possession of the ball during (last) Thursday night’s non-league girls soccer match at Minford High School.

Ed Litteral | Daily Times

Paul Boggs

MINFORD — When reporting information on his Lady Falcons’ girls soccer matches, or in postmatch interviews, Minford head coach Shane Tieman traditionally makes it a point to mention two things.

Tieman thanks present media members for their attendance and coverage of not only his club but also girls soccer in general, and always expresses excitement about the growth of the girls game.

“We appreciate everybody’s coverage and support and we had a great crowd again tonight,” said Tieman, following the Lady Falcons’ 2-1 triumph over Wheelersburg on Tuesday night, to take a one-game Southern Ohio Conference lead.

In reply, our media fraternity appreciates Tieman’s kind words, and many of us echo his enthusiasm about the girls game —and its future.

For those into counting, aside from the Southeast District’s Logan and Chillicothe competing as Division I programs and thus playing Ohio High School Athletic Association postseason tournament matches in the Central District, there are 35 girls soccer Southeast District teams —17 in Division II and 18 in Division III.

That Division III number likely would have reached 20 —had both West and Ironton St. Joseph fielded units this season.

Among those in Division III are the three Scioto County squads —Minford, Northwest and Wheelersburg —and top-tier division programs from the Southern Hills Athletic Conference, including Eastern Brown, Fairfield, Lynchburg-Clay and North Adams.

Then there is Rock Hill of the Ohio Valley Conference, which Minford staged that unforgettable and epic comeback against just nine nights ago —trailing 5-0 to the Redwomen, before amassing seven goals in a span of 20 second-half minutes to prevail 7-6.

Speaking of Rock Hill, on Thursday night, Wheelersburg’s Lady Pirates played it to a 1-1 draw on its Lawrence County hillside off Route 93 —as the now 3-3-1 Pirates have lost 2-1 road decisions at Division II stronghold Unioto in the opener, and at North Adams and Minford in a span of three days.

That was after a 10-day layoff for Wheelersburg, too.

“We knew that these six days (North Adams, Minford and Rock Hill matches) were going to be huge, part of the hardest schedule that we’ve ever had. But that’s okay,” said Wheelersburg coach Todd Jarvis. “I felt the girls, both sides (Wheelersburg and Minford), played their hearts out tonight and gave it everything they had. It was a fun match to watch.”

Indeed, lots of good, tough, and physically-demanding Division III girls soccer being played —perhaps arguably even more aggressive at times than their boys counterparts.

If you’ve not attended a girls soccer match, I encourage you to do so —because the girls go after it and are not afraid to mix it up full contact with often reckless abandon, bodies banging everywhere and hitting the pitch turf hard.

Tuesday night’s Wheelersburg and Minford match was about as intense as it gets, with several fouls being called —in addition to three yellow cards.

When the phrase “knock down and drag out” affair gets thrown around, girls soccer means it most of the time.

But, the girls game has grown in Southeastern Ohio.

Take Tieman and Minford for example.

The Lady Falcons, now 7-1-0 following Thursday’s 2-0 loss to Division I Lancaster, captured two colossal victories in five days time — the largest comeback in Minford girls soccer history, followed up by their first win over Wheelersburg since 2014.

The Lady Falcons have been around for two full decades as well —their inaugural campaign coming in 2003.

“The progress that women’s soccer has made in southern Ohio in the last 10 years is phenomenal. We went from the only girls team around (Scioto County) for 10 years to suddenly we have a league (SOC) to suddenly we’re playing other leagues to suddenly we’re competing with some of the bigger programs,” said Tieman, following the win over Rock Hill. “Rock Hill and Wheelersburg are right there with us.”

So too are the aforementioned four SHAC schools —as last season Eastern Brown won the Region 11 championship.

The Lady Pirates are the defending SOC champion —following five titles in a row from 2015 thru 2019.

Waverly, of Division II, was the SOC winner two years ago.

Naturally, as programs progress through their infancy — it’s going to take time to grow, build, maintain, and ultimately become established.

However, we are seeing that with girls soccer —as Tieman makes it a degree of a good talking point following every interview or match results report.

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved