WHEELERSBURG — Simply put, the Lady Pirates’ roller-coaster of a soccer match against visiting Waverly on Thursday wasn’t the start —or definitely the finish —they had hoped for.
As a result, Wheelersburg — with just two seniors on its entire roster — will now be forced to keep pace with the experienced and talented Tigers for the next month.
Waverly scored two goals in less than eight minutes, withstood Wheelersburg’s scoring opportunities, and blitzed the Pirates for three more markers over the final 24 minutes en route to capturing a 5-1 victory in a key early-season Southern Ohio Conference clash inside Ed Miller Stadium.
Both clubs are now 3-1-0 — although the Lady Pirates fell to 2-1-0 in the SOC, while Waverly seizes the early league lead along with Minford (2-0-0) at 3-0-0.
The Lady Tigers’ lone loss came on Saturday against Warren —with a 2-0 shutout.
Wheelersburg and Waverly, while winning on the other’s home pitch last season, shared the SOC championship.
This season, however, the Lady Pirates are indeed younger after some significant graduation losses, while the Tigers —despite only 17 in the entire program —are top-heavy in experience with seven seniors and three regular rotation juniors.
Three of those seniors and one junior accounted for all five Tiger markers, including standout senior striker Zoiee Smith, who recorded a hat trick with her cleanup-time tally with two minutes and 17 seconds remaining.
Amelia Willis and Loren Moran managed goals as well — while Smith, Moran and Willis with one assist and junior Kylie Smith with two exemplified the passing and quality Tiger teamwork.
While Wheelersburg sports several sophomores and juniors that primarily played junior varsity last season, the Tigers appeared to be the faster, fresher and sharper squad on Thursday.
“We’re young, and I think we are a good team, but Waverly played really well tonight and we got beat by a good team so we tip our hats to them,” said Wheelersburg coach Todd Jarvis. “The great thing is we will see them again. I’m not discouraged by what I saw. It was good work by them. Hopefully, we’ll give them a little better show at their place.”
The Tigers put on a show in the opening eight minutes, and only needed two minutes and three seconds to get on the scoreboard —with Moran assisting Willis.
Then, just five minutes and 40 seconds later at the 32:17 mark, it was Willis assisting Zoiee Smith for the first goal of her three.
“We were very prophetic. We talked about the first 10 minutes. They are a senior-laden, well-coached team. They possessed the ball really well and we know all this,” said Jarvis. “We talked about the first 10 minutes, and they go up 2-0 on us.”
Perhaps fatigue factored in for Wheelersburg, as the Lady Pirates played on Wednesday at Ironton St. Joseph and won 3-0 with three Laney Eller goals, but they did so amid the tropic-like heat and humidity —and on natural grass.
Waverly, meanwhile, was four days removed from its last match —which was Warren.
“We played 80 hard minutes at St. Joe, then turned around and played 80 hard today (Thursday). That’s not easy to do, but we don’t make excuses. We play the schedule we are given, and we were as prepared to play today as we could be,” said Jarvis. “We put forth our best effort, but came up just short.”
The Lady Pirates, though, did keep it interesting for 35 minutes —after Eller scored at the 18:37 mark of the opening half and following a nice lead pass from fellow senior Ellie Kallner.
But that’s also when Wheelersburg began to misfire on excellent open looks at the net.
At the 16:20 mark, Eller just missed to the right, as Annie Coriell’s direct kick catching the Tiger defense scrambling sailed directly into the hands of junior goalkeeper Lydia Brown.
That was with 2:54 left in the half, as perhaps the Pirates’ best chance to tie was with only a minute and 12 seconds to go.
Their possession pulled Brown up in the goalbox and away from the net, and a shot squirted away from her grasp —as Wheelersburg’s Bella Miller missed a close attempt despite getting free with the ball and the Tigers trailing defensively.
With 26 minutes remaining, Eller missed wide right again —as this time Waverly responded with Moran mustering the goal off a right-to-left cross from Smith.
The Tigers outshot the Pirates on goal 15-7, as Waverly amounted four corner kicks compared to the Pirates’ mere one.
“We had chances and we talk about it all the time. The better the team you play, the fewer the chances you get. You have to take advantage of them when you can,” said Jarvis. “We had an open netter with the keeper out and our girl knocks it wide. Thirty-two seconds later, they take it down and score. That’s a two-goal swing in less than two minutes. That can happen in this game.”
That made it 3-1 with 24:13 to play, as Kylie Smith assisted Zoiee Smith on her second goal just five minutes later.
Kylie also assisted Zoiee on the late-game goal, which made it 5-1.
Less than 15 minutes following the conclusion of Thursday’s match, Jarvis considered his Lady Pirates pressing on to next week — as they travel to Northwest on Tuesday.
Wheelersburg will rematch Waverly at the Tigers’ Raidiger Field on Oct. 1, so almost a month of keeping pace with the fast-paced Tigers awaits.
“That’s the great thing about the SOC. We get to make two trips around. This game is behind us and leaves a blemish on the sheet. I felt like we did some good things, I’m proud of the way we played and didn’t give up, but it just wasn’t good enough tonight and sometimes it’s not,” said Jarvis “We’re young, we’ll learn to finish, and there’s just all kinds of lessons to take from it.”
* * *
Waverly 2 3 — 5
Wheelersburg 1 0 —1
Wave — Amelia Willis (Loren Moran assist), 37:57, 1st (1-0 Wave)
Wave — Zoiee Smith (Amelia Willis assist), 32:17, 1st (2-0 Wave)
Burg — Laney Eller (Ellie Kallner assist), 18:37, 1st (2-1 Wave)
Wave — Loren Moran (Zoiee Smith assist), 24:13, 2nd (3-1 Wave)
Wave — Zoiee Smith (Kylie Smith assist), 19:14, 2nd (4-1 Wave)
Wave — Zoiee Smith (Kylie Smith assist), 2:17, 2nd (5-1 Wave)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved