MINFORD — As anticipated, Minford made good on validating its first Southern Ohio Conference girls soccer championship since 2014 —with Wednesday’s Division III sectional championship shutout over the visiting Peebles Lady Indians.
Lexi Conkel collected four goals, including a hat trick just a dozen minutes into the opening half, and the second-seeded Lady Falcons soared past Peebles for a 9-0 blanking inside the Falcons’ Nest.
For the sophomore Conkel, already the school’s single-season record-holder for most goals scored, she only added on to her two-year decorated career —upping her tally total to 49 for the season, and to 68 for her two years to date in Red.
For the Lady Falcons, last season’s sectional championship triumph —a 1-0 win over visiting Fairland thanks to a late Conkel goal on a direct kick —was their second in program history, as they now have three with their initial occurring a full decade ago (2012).
But, Wednesday’s win was much easier and a lot less stressful —as Minford raises its record to 15-2-0.
The only two losses are against much larger schools —2-0 counts against both visiting Lancaster (Division I team on Sept. 15) and host Athens (Division II team on Oct. 6).
But back in Division III, the Falcons face now seventh-seeded and nemesis Wheelersburg for a third time —having swept the rival Lady Pirates at Minford 2-1 and at Wheelersburg 7-2, a mere month apart and for the SOC title.
The Lady Pirates pitched a shutout of their own in their sectional championship on Wednesday —a 6-0 clean slate against 10th-seeded Zane Trace.
Henceforth, it’s Minford and Wheelersburg with a ticket to be punched to the Division III Southeast District championship tilt —as the Falcons and Pirates play on Monday at 6 p.m.
The neutral site selected is Northwest’s Roy Rogers Field —a FieldTurf surface that both clubs are accustomed to, given both play the Lady Mohawks as SOC members.
In the second meeting with Wheelersburg, which was the Lady Falcons’ most recent match before facing the Lady Indians —Conkel racked up the opening six Minford goals, giving her 45 for the season and 64 for her career.
With senior standout forward Haley Knore nursing a quad injury in that affair, Conkel controlled the action —and did so again against Peebles, although Knore opted to sit that contest out and rest the aggravated quad.
Against the infancy program Indians, it wasn’t going to matter.
Minford muscled for six first-half goals in a matter of 11 minutes and 33 seconds, the first three by Conkel with the first two coming assisted.
Mychal Cron on the opening goal (34:26) and Ava Cronin (29:25) on the second made it 2-0, as an unassisted Conkel marker made it 3-0 at the 28:27 juncture.
With 32 minutes and 24 seconds remaining, Conkel capped off the scoring on another assist by Cronin —as the Minford reserves saw the majority of the action in the match’s second half.
A little over a minute apart and almost to the first half’s midpoint, Allison Crank (goal at 24:03 and assist at 22:47) and Sydney Mougey (assist at 24:03 and goal at 22:47) both scored and assisted each other on goals.
The second-half same can be said for Gracyn Coriell (39:33 goal and 37:21 assist) and Lyla Napier (39:33 assist and 37:21 goal), as in between —with a minute and 45 seconds left before halftime —Cron scored unassisted.
With so many shots on goal fired at the Lady Indians’ keeper, she was actually credited with 18 saves.
“This was a good solid win. Good possession from the team,” said Minford coach Shane Tieman. “Hats off to Peebles. They played 11 and no subs. They played hard until the last minute. Great attitude. Some talent there. Congrats to their goalie on a superb game, saving some very good shots. Hoping they can get a few more girls and keep it going. Best of luck to them next year.”
As for this year, the Lady Falcons seek to keep their season going beyond Monday and the Division III district semifinals—all the while winning over Wheelersburg for a third and final time.