McDERMOTT — For the sixth time in seven seasons, the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates girls soccer team will play for a Division III district championship.
That scenario came as a result of their 2-1 win over Minford on Monday in a D-III district semifinal played at Northwest’s Roy Rogers Field.
It was the third — and arguably most meaningful — meeting between the two during the ‘22 season.
Prior to their district semifinal matchup, the SOC champion Lady Falcons won both games over their rival — 2-1 at Minford on Sept. 1 and 7-2 at Wheelersburg just 11 days ago.
A goal each by ‘Burg senior captains Annie Coriell and Jocelyn Tilley and a defensive performance that held Minford to their second fewest goals this campaign were what made the Lady Pirates’ third try at it the charm.
“I think the difference between this and the last two games, I think is wanting it, doing what it takes to get it done,” Coriell said, after the win. “This was something that all 22 of us bought into and that’s how it gets done. We all bought in.”
“We knew that Minford was going to come hard in the second half,” ‘Burg coach Todd Jarvis said. “Defensively, the girls just continued to hang in there and battle.”
Coriell’s goal on an assist by junior Bella Miller with 3:34 left in the first half gave spectators the game’s first goal and the Lady Pirates a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
With 25:00 to play in the second half, Minford’s Lexi Pendleton tied the game at 1-1 with a goal assisted by Sadie Hatfield.
Shortly after, on a cross pass by Coriell, Tilley gave ‘Burg its’ second score and a 2-1 lead with 18:11 to play.
“The sun rises and sets on the backs of those who dance the dance. Those two ladies have been through it,” Jarvis said. “Three-year captains, what do you say about Annie and Jocelyn? The beauty of it is, they’re on my team come Thursday.”
Minford coach Shane Tieman said following the game that Wheelersburg’s aggressiveness, particularly in the first half, was a key difference in their third go-around.
“The biggest thing was they played like Wheelersburg can play. They ran through every ball, they played aggressively, there was no quit in them,” Tieman said. “I felt like we were flat for the first 40 minutes and you can’t do that against a good team in a district semifinal.”
Minford was without senior Haley Knore, the program’s all-time leading goal scorer, for periods of the contest as she battled through an injury sustained earlier this season.
“That hurt. We had more mobility with another player if you put them in, but you’re not going to take out Haley Knore in crunch time,” Tieman said. “She played her guts out — playing through pain that you and I couldn’t play through.”
Keeping a watchful eye on Knore and sophomore Lexi Conkel was something the Lady Pirates game-planned to do — particularly after Conkel’s six-goal performance in their Oct. 11 meeting.
“Minford is a quality group — their record has demonstrated it. They’ve gotten to us twice this year, we knew we were going to have to come at them differently,” Jarvis said. “I felt that what we did the first two times was decent, but we needed to make some changes. We shifted some stuff around and came at them in a different set and it worked.”
Knore and Mychal Cron, goalkeeper Nevaeh Porter, and Sydney Mougey helped lead the Lady Falcons to the program’s first SOC title since 2014 during their senior season.
It’s a group that Tieman spoke incredibly fondly of following their final high school contest.
“First primary sport soccer group I’ve had, they were coached well in youth league, their soccer IQ is off the chart. They’re all good girls, hard workers, team players, unselfish. They’re a hard class to beat — I can’t say enough about that class,” Tieman said. “Love them and I’ll be forever proud of them.”
Wheelersburg will face North Adams at Waverly’s Raidiger Field on Thursday (Oct. 27) at 7:30 p.m. seeking their fifth D-III district championship since 2016.
The Lady Pirates faced their district final opponent back on Sept. 10 — a 2-1 road defeat in Seaman.
These two programs also have postseason history, as last year the Lady Pirates secured a 2-1 overtime win over the Lady Green Devils in the district semifinals.
“It’s a plus,” Jarvis said, on seeing North Adams a second time. “Not saying we can solve it all, but we’ll have a plan. I can’t tell you what that is today, we’ll start working on it in the stands. The beauty of our group is we put a plan together and it’s their duty to carry it out.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved