HURRICANE — The journey is nearly complete for the Hurricane girls soccer team.
The Redskins took a big step forward on their quest for a repeat Class AAA state championship Saturday, defeating Parkersburg South 2-0 in the Region 4 championship in front of their home crowd. The win earned a return trip to the state tournament for Hurricane. The Redskins will play in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Friday in Beckley against Region 1 champion Morgantown.
The Redskins (19-2-1) re-established their offensive output after a shaky ending to the regular season, where they lost the last three games by shutout scores. They had won their regular-season match over the Patriots 5-0 in somewhat easy fashion, but this game played out a little differently.
“What we’ve seen with a lot of teams is they have to concentrate so much on stopping our offense it opens things up,” said Redskins coach Shelly Young. “In the second half they brought people forward so we had to drop our center midfield defender back to help out.”
Although the first half saw continuous Patriot pressure led by forwards Samara Nunn and Jessica Life, it was the Redskins who took the lead on two goals by sophomore Bailey Fisher.
Bailey’s initial goal found the back of the net at the 26:40 mark from a well-placed assist by freshman Lauren Dye. The goal came even as Parkersburg South was packing the defense in, using as many as six and seven defenders in front of the net.
The second goal by Bailey came with 17:15 to play as she drove 30 yards down the middle of the field before being contested. At that point, and with superb footwork, she made a move to avoid two South defenders, breaking into a clear path and slanting it in from 12 yards away to put her team up 2-0. That lead lasted into the halftime break.
Parkersburg South (10-8-2) had to rely on defense in the first 10 minutes of the second half as the Redskins controlled the ball and time of possession on the Patriot side of the field. However, as the play became more physical, the Patriots began finding momentum on the offensive side.
With this role reversal, South became the aggressor with many chances on several corner kicks. As time wound down, the Patriots continued to bring more defenders forward, creating chaos and opportunities against the Hurricane net and goalkeeper Olivia Bird.
But the Redskins played just enough defense to persevere and maintain the shutout.
“When you get behind early you get yourself in trouble. The girls knew what they needed to do in the game and we just didn’t do it,” said Patriot coach Ron Bucholtz. “We got burned on two plays there but we possessed the ball nicely and I would liked to have played them on a big grass field because our passing would have been even a little better. But I’m proud of the team and we’ve been playing strongly the last half of the season and turned things around. We had a great season.”
Cabell Midland 1, Parkersburg 0: With 21:15 to play, Cabell Midland sophomore midfielder Ryan Holmes sped down the left side unguarded and punched in a score from 8 yards away after receiving a nicely placed feed from senior Joseph Shiels for the game’s only goal, giving the Knights the Region 4 boys title.
Midland (14-4-2) will play in the AAA semifinals at 10 a.m. Friday in Beckley against Region 1 champion University.