WHEELERSBURG — The Lady Pirates were simply hoping for more magic, even another dramatic and fantastic finish, to Tuesday’s Division III regional semifinal soccer match.
But Wheelersburg, despite playing on the home pitch at Ed Miller Stadium, wasn’t able at all to outrace this group of Mustangs.
Thus, another impressive season of Wheelersburg Lady Pirates soccer came to an end, as visiting Lynchburg-Clay pitched a 5-0 shutout in an encounter of the top two seeded Southeast District Division III squads.
Both the Lady Pirates and Lady Mustangs had to prevail by the razor-thinnest of outcomes only three days earlier on Saturday at Waverly’s Raidiger Field —capturing respective Division III district championships in the process.
While Wheelersburg pulled off an incredible and unforgettable 4-3 overtime comeback victory after trailing 3-1 against Eastern Brown with 31 minutes and 12 seconds remaining, the Lady Mustangs needed not one but two overtimes to edge North Adams 2-1.
For the Lady Pirates, they tried to sustain the same physical energy —and keep the same emotional level — as they did in the final four minutes of regulation, and first four minutes of overtime, against Eastern Brown.
Unfortunately for them, the skilled, speedy, technically-sound and defensively strong Lady Mustangs had none of it —and posted a pair of first-half goals followed by three more markers in the second, the final of which was a Mckenna Roades unassisted make with a minute and 13 seconds to go.
Karlie Tipton tallied a hat trick for the Mustangs, Jade Massey muscled a pair of assists, and the Lady Pirates played their final of 20 matches for the 2020 season —ending the year at 15-4-1.
“We knew how good Lynchburg-Clay was coming in. There are only good teams left, and we were one of them. It’s just that our good team didn’t fare well against their good team tonight,” said Wheelersburg coach Todd Jarvis. “They play really well, they are amazingly aggressive and have good skill with the ball.”
And, the Mustangs — now 16-4-0 — are indeed lockdown on defense.
Lynchburg-Clay outshot the Lady Pirates 20-6, and collected its 11th shutout of the season —three of which have occurred in the Mustangs’ four tournament tilts.
The only goal given up by the Mustangs was against North Adams in the district final, as the Lady Pirates had scored 74 goals this season —and had last been shut out exactly three years ago.
That previous shutout came against the Mustangs in 2017 —a 1-0 Lynchburg-Clay clipping in the same regional semifinal round.
Tuesday’s triumph by the Mustangs was actually their third conquering of the Pirates in the “Sweet Sixteen”, as they also defeated Wheelersburg at the same juncture four years back.
Wheelersburg won one district championship match between the two — 2-1 in 2018.
Like the Lady Pirates, the Lady Mustangs are also a young yet experienced squad, and — in putting the Pirates down 2-0 at halftime — forced Wheelersburg to shift gears and become more offensive-oriented.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work well —and Lynchburg-Clay collected three second-half goals over the final 20 minutes and 26 seconds.
“We battled, and we tried to gamble a little bit in the second half, which left our defense vulnerable. We were not going to completely settle in, and so we pushed forward and gave them our best shot. It just wasn’t good enough tonight,” said Jarvis. “Hats off to Lynchburg-Clay, for they have set the standard in the Southeast District Division III for a while. We don’t hang our heads in a loss to them.”
The Mustangs got the only goal they needed for the win only eight minutes in —when Paige Flowers found Tipton on the left side, and she beat Brynley Preston at the left post for the 1-0 lead.
With 15:41 remaining, L-C made it 2-0 when Massey crossed one from the right corner to the left post —and senior Sierra Benney banged one just inside the mid-left 90.
Tipton tallied the next two Mustang markers — only seven minutes apart in the second half — when she first caught a Massey through-ball and dribbled between Pirate defenders, before finally blasting a ricochet shot in at point-blank range.
That made it 4-0 with 13-and-a-half minutes remaining.
At the other end, L-C goalkeeper Philemina Toca stopped all six Lady Pirate shots.
As it turned out, while Wheelersburg won its fourth district championship in program history —all in the last five years and all at Waverly’s Raidiger Field —the Lady Pirates’ four losses all came at home against four quality clubs.
The others were against Southern Ohio Conference champion Waverly, district runner-up North Adams, and Ironton St. Joseph, whom the Green Devils defeated for the right to play Lynchburg-Clay.
Jarvis said, though, that the Lady Pirates played soccer into November on Tuesday night.
“The thing of it is we’re still here battling. We could be playing basketball tonight, but instead we played soccer,” said the coach. “That means a lot for a program like ours. We are young, we’re going to be back again, and that’s what we’re going to look forward to.”
It was the final match for the Lady Pirates’ pair of standout seniors —Laney Eller and Ellie Kallner.
The duo, of which Eller excels especially in softball and Kallner in basketball, did win three district championships in four years.
“I have great appreciation for those two two-year captains. We relied upon Laney and Ellie heavily and trusted them in a lot of different manners,” said Jarvis. “They came here and did our soccer program proud and served us well. Their commitment to the girls soccer program was just a great thing. They gave everything they had all the time.”
Unfortunately, the magic of this season just couldn’t continue on.
“These ladies work hard and it was good to see them rewarded with a 15-4-1 season, a district championship, playing 20 matches and into November. Those are all great things for a soccer program,” said Jarvis. “Only one team doesn’t lose at the end of the year in each division. Right now, that’s not us. But we’ll be okay, the sun comes up tomorrow and we’ll figure out what to do for next year.”
* * *
Lynchburg-Clay 2 3 — 5
Wheelersburg 0 0 — 0
L-C —Karlie Tipton (Paige Flowers assist), 32:09, 1st (1-0 L-C)
L-C — Sierra Benney (Jade Massey assist), 15:41, 1st (2-0 L-C)
L-C — Karlie Tipton (Jade Massey assist), 20:26, 2nd (3-0 L-C)
L-C — Karlie Tipton (unassisted), 13:25, 2nd (4-0 L-C)
L-C — Mckenna Roades (unassisted), 1:13, 2nd (5-0 L-C)
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