WHEELERSBURG — The Wheelersburg Lady Pirates’ soccer program and free soccer have become quite familiar with one another during the last three seasons.
A pair of overtime wins during last year’s Division III district tournament, a shootout win during the sectional tournament of their only season as a D-II program in 2019, and again on Monday showed why it’s tough to doubt the Lady Pirates when you give them enough time.
After North Adams (10-6-1) took a 1-0 lead into the halftime break, a pair of goals from sophomore Bella Miller and a scoreless defensive performance for the final 65-plus minutes helped put the Lady Pirates (14-2-2) into their second straight district championship match a 2-1 victory.
“We had battled for 80 minutes, North Adams is a fundamentally sound team. We were able to get one and even it up, had some chances that didn’t go our way so we have to go to overtime,” ‘Burg coach Todd Jarvis said, afterwards. “Told our girls to keep doing what we’re doing, really proud of them for being able to step up. I feel like in overtime we controlled it a lot.”
Ainsley Grooms’ rebound goal gave the Lady Green Devils a 1-0 lead with 13:14 left in the first half.
Despite some additional close chances for North Adams, they were held to just their lone goal, unlike their 3-1 win over the Lady Pirates way back on Sept. 11 — in the fifth game of the season.
“We defended well, (Wheelersburg goalkeeper) Brynley (Preston) did a great job — it was an absolute team effort. One thing we always say is you have to be where you need to, because you never know when the ball’s coming.”
After halftime, Wheelersburg responded quickly with the equalizing goal that would help set up the overtime period.
The sophomore Miller found an open angle past NA goalie Harlee Brand with 37:04 left in regulation, tying the game with a lot of soccer to play.
Miller became the overtime hero as well, scoring after making her way past the NA back line — with 54 seconds left in the first overtime period.
Two plays from his shifty sophomore that Coach Jarvis credits to her growth over the course of the season.
“She’s (Miller) got great speed, her ability to control — she’s grown and matured. She might not have been able to do that on Aug. 1st, but she can now,” he said.
In their return to Waverly’s Raidiger Field, the No. 3-seed Lady Pirates will face No. 2-seed Eastern Brown on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
It will be a rematch of their game at the same stage last season — a 4-3 Wheelersburg win in, you guessed it, overtime.
A win on Thursday would give the Lady Pirates’ program its fifth D-III district title since 2016.
“We look forward to it, we like to play at Waverly,” Jarvis said. “Whoever it is we’re ready, tournament play is all about playing who’s next. We’ll be ready and our girls will give it a good go.”
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NA — Ainsley Grooms, 13:14, 1st (1-0 NA)
W — Bella Miller, 37:04, 2nd (1-1 tie)
W — Bella Miller, :54, OT (2-1 W)
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