WHEELERSBURG — Simply put, and perhaps well-aware of the sense of urgency, the Lady Pirates fired 15 shots on goal —and hit everything from pillar and post on Tuesday night.
And, among those Wheelersburg ladies was Annie Coriell —the standout midfielder and corner kicker who has now apparently assumed a larger role in the squad’s scoring.
That’s because Coriell, with an assist on the Lady Pirates’ opening goal and scoring the other two in a second-half span of less than five minutes, spearheaded Wheelersburg’s important Southern Ohio Conference girls soccer victory —a physical yet critical 3-2 triumph over the visiting Minford Falcons inside an electric Ed Miller Stadium.
That’s correct, Coriell came up big both offensively and even defensively— before an unfortunate ejection with only three minutes and 25 seconds remaining, due to receiving two yellow cards.
With the win, Wheelersburg —the five-time SOC champion from 2015 thru 2019 — raised its record to 5-1, and completed the first half of round-robin league play a perfect 5-0.
Tuesday’s tilt was for outright first-place in the SOC, as the Lady Falcons fell to 4-2 — and to 4-1 in the conference with all four of their victories coming consecutive.
They saw that winning streak snapped, despite tying the Lady Pirates at 1-1 only six minutes and 22 seconds after Wheelersburg went ahead 1-0 — and getting to within 3-2 with only 18:54 remaining.
It was over the final half of the second half that the Lady Pirates, forced to make some patchwork position switches due to an ankle injury to senior defender Allie Vallance, played to hang on —and try to dribble out the clock on the Lady Falcons.
In the end, it held up, and Wheelersburg accomplished its job one on Tuesday night —which was to win.
“They (Falcons) are a good quality team and we didn’t take anything for granted and tried to plan accordingly. We knew what we were up against, but we took care of business. I felt we were prepared and the girls did really good work,” said Wheelersburg coach Todd Jarvis. “Sometimes, you just have to hang on. That’s what we did for two or three minutes before we got our feet back under us and were able to drain the clock. At that point in time, that’s all we are looking to do.”
The Lady Pirates put themselves in that position with a Coriell pair of goals to go up 3-1 — which held up for 11-and-a-half minutes.
She was the only gal to tally in Wheelersburg’s 3-1 non-league loss at North Adams on Saturday, and her unassisted marker made it 2-1 Lady Pirates a mere nine minutes and 35 seconds into the second half.
Then, with 25:49 remaining, Coriell connected for another goal —off a Jocelyn Tilley direct kick with no other Lady Pirates touching the ball in between.
In the opening half, Coriell assisted ahead to sprinting striker Bella Miller, who put the Lady Pirates in front for six minutes and 22 seconds at the 22:38 mark.
While Wheelersburg doubled up the Lady Falcons in shots 15-8, Coriell’s two goals in less than five minutes made that 3-1 lead loom large.
Jarvis was pleased at his Lady Pirates’ plan of attack, as Wheelersburg went right at the net —and saw at least three shots clang off the crossbar or post.
The rest were snagged by Minford junior goalkeeper Neveah Porter, who made a dozen saves.
“We created some opportunities and I was pleased with the way we were able to finish. We hit the post or crossbar several times tonight for sure. Scoring is something we’re working on and we’re getting better, and we had many opportunities,” said Jarvis. “I felt as if the girls were attacking the ball, executing well, and setting themselves up for some good shots. Their keeper did a nice job of making some saves.”
Minford coach Shane Tieman concurred.
“Naveah Porter dove better tonight than I’ve ever seen her dive. She made some really huge plays across the face of the goal, diving backwards toward the corner to stop the ball. I was very proud of the way she played,” said the coach. “She had some pain she was dealing with, but you couldn’t tell out there. She was doing fantastic.”
So much so that she kept the Lady Falcons within striking distance all night —as Minford forced the 1-1 tie on an Ava Cronin goal.
Haley Knore then made it 3-2 with 18:54 to play, as Mychal Cron came up with the cross for the assist.
“I don’t feel like we played our best game and we weren’t real crisp, but we played gutsy and our effort I thought was great,” said Tieman. “We kept fighting, clawed back and we made some adjustments on the fly that got us more looks down here on the offensive side.”
The Lady Falcons just couldn’t come up with a second deadlock.
After Vallance went out, Jarvis adjusted the Orange and Black back line —and Maddison Kotcamp stepped up in the center to thwart a pair of Minford rushes, by simply engaging contact and kicking the ball away to disrupt the Falcon attack.
“It was a very physical game. There were some hard fouls, but soccer is shoulder-to-shoulder and knocking each other off the ball, and is not a touch-foul kind of game. But I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Tieman. “That’s how it goes.”
Wheelersburg goalkeeper Brynley Preston posted a half-dozen saves, as Jarvis praised his Lady Pirate defense for adjusting without notice —and ultimately keeping the Lady Falcons out of the net in the latter stages.
“Our defensive back four in front of Brynley does yeoman’s work back there,” he said.
An apparent Minford goal with four minutes remaining was quickly waved off, as the officials ruled the ball hit the football goalpost crossbar —and not the soccer crossbar just below it.
That meant the ball, before it bounced one time and into the net, was out of bounds.
Just 35 to 45 seconds later, Coriell was given a soft red card —meaning the Lady Pirates played the final 3:25 one girl down.
But the Pirates possessed and passed the ball, and kept it away from Minford — and in effect ran out the clock.
Tieman talked about already re-matching Wheelersburg, which will happen in a month at Minford for the regular-season finale.
If neither the Lady Pirates nor the Lady Falcons fall from now until then, then that mid-October affair will mean an ultimate SOC championship tilt.
“They are hard to beat here, but frankly, I am looking forward to playing them on our field at the end of the year. We still hold our destiny in our hands,” said Tieman. “If we win out, we play Wheelersburg last game of the season, and depending on what they do, we’ll either tie them for the SOC or win it outright.”
So still for the Lady Pirates, that sense of urgency remains.
“I felt we played a really good game against a good opponent, and put ourselves in great position for the SOC (championship race),” said Jarvis. “A good second half (of SOC play) ahead of us, we hope.”
* * *
Minford 1 1 —2
Wheelersburg 1 2 — 3
W — Bella Miller (Annie Coriell assist), 22:38, 1st (1-0 W)
M — Ava Cronin (unassisted), 16:16, 1st (1-1 tie)
W — Annie Coriell (unassisted), 30:25, 2nd (2-1 W)
W — Annie Coriell (Jocelyn Tilley assist), 25:49, 2nd (3-1 W)
M — Haley Knore (Mychal Cron assist), 18:54, 2nd (3-2 W)
SHOTS ON GOAL — Minford 8, Wheelersburg 15
SAVES — Minford 12 (Naveah Porter), Wheelersburg 6 (Brynley Preston)
CORNER KICKS — Minford 2, Wheelersburg 5
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved