MINFORD — Two of the Southeast District’s best met on Thursday with quite the prize on the line.
Entering the second meeting of the 2021 fall season between Wheelersburg and Minford, a Lady Pirates’ win or tie would ensure their claiming an outright SOC championship, while the Lady Falcons needed a win to split the league title.
After trailing 1-0 at half, Wheelersburg scored a pair of second-half goals to take a 2-1 edge and, despite a game-tying goal from Minford with 10 minutes to play, neither team managed a go-ahead score.
Thus, the 2-2 draw gave the ‘Burg program its’ sixth SOC title in eight years and brought their record to 12-2-2.
The draw was Minford’s first of the season, as the Lady Falcons concluded their regular season at 11-4-1.
Both teams played the full amount of games allowed by the OHSAA, and both teams played until the final minute with much at stake.
“That’s outstanding for these young ladies, bring it (SOC title) back to Wheelersburg. Aug. 1st is when you make these plans, and on Oct. 14 is when it finally culminates,” Wheelersburg coach Todd Jarvis said, afterwards. “It’s a lot of hard work in between that date and today, glad to see the Lady Pirates pull together and do it.”
Lady Falcons junior Haley Knore scored the game’s first goal with 11 minutes to play in the first half, finishing a corner on a pass from Lexi Conkel to give the Lady Falcons a 1-0 lead.
Wheelersburg junior Annie Coriell then sent a shot into the upper portion of the back of the Lady Falcons’ net — 12 minutes into the second half to tie the game at 1-1.
Less than six minutes later, at the 18:21 mark, Coriell sent a corner kick into the box — and freshman Mia Vastine was on the receiving end for the ‘Burg go-ahead goal.
Conkel scored with 10:29 left to tie the game at 2-2, and put Minford in a position to win the game in the late stages.
A few opportunities to score near the Wheelersburg goal were stopped by senior goalkeeper Brynley Preston, who finished the game with five saves.
Minford keeper Nevaeh Porter had 12 saves, as both teams’ back line play was key in a draw result.
“Our back line did a good job defending Minford’s front — they’re a challenge. Proud of the way we countered that,” Jarvis said. “Coming in, we had two really good teams with good records. It played exactly as I thought it would be played.”
“Had some opportunities to go back ahead late with some breakaways and couldn’t convert,” Minford coach Shane Tieman said. “That’s the type of things that happens in soccer, sometimes the ball gets ahead of you or away from you. Their goalie (Preston) did a good job of breaking up that one-on-one; she had an excellent game.”
Minford and Wheelersburg could meet for a third time if both teams make a respective run into the Division III district championship.
Wheelersburg, the No. 3 seed, will host the winner of Zane Trace and West in a D-III sectional final on Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 5 p.m.
Minford, the No. 7 seed, will host No. 10 Fairland in their own sectional final the same night.
With wins on Wednesday, and in the following Monday’s D-III district semis, the pair would meet in the district championship — with a trip to the regional tournament on the line.
Both coaches say that now they and their team’s focus is on tournaments — and seeing how long each can make their runs last.
“Now we’ve got the SOC behind us, looking forward to our tournament run. We’ll play next Wednesday to start the tournament and you never know, we might see Minford again this season,” Jarvis said. “Both teams play really hard and I think we’re in a position to see both make good runs.”
“We could play ‘Burg again the district championship, that’d be a great thing for the Southern Ohio Conference and a great thing for our program,” Tieman said. “We’d love to see them again.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved