BECKLEY — It’ll be an all-northern Class AAA girls soccer championship game after Morgantown defeated Hurricane and Hedgesville edged George Washington, both by 2-1 scores, in the semifinals Friday.
Morgantown and Hedgesville will square off for the state title Saturday afternoon.
Morgantown 2, Hurricane 1: Few teams figured out ways to score on Hurricane this season, but when it counted, the Mohigans had the Redskins’ number.
After Hurricane rallied in the second half, Morgantown’s Anne Williams put away a rebound with under 10 minutes left to push the Mohigans into the championship Friday evening at Paul Cline Memorial Sports Complex.
The loss ends Hurricane’s season at 19-3-1 with two of the losses coming against the Mohigans.
In all, Hurricane allowed seven goals on the season — five of which were scored by Morgantown.
Williams’ goal capped an action-packed second half in which Hurricane was the aggressor for much of it.
Hurricane coach Shelly Young said Morgantown’s ability to possess the ball played huge in the outcome.
“They are the most skilled team we’ve played against,” Young said. “Their possession is very good. We are used to being able to control possession against most teams and that took us a while. We had to figure out as a team what we could do to be effective.”
Hurricane finally scored in the 65th minute of the second half when Madyson Lunsford placed a 20-yard shot into the right corner over the outstretched arms of Morgantown goalkeeper Jessica Jones to knot the match.
“My teammates always talk to me when I’m on the field,” Lunsford said. “I’m much more accurate inside the box, so I wasn’t sure, but they all told me to shoot and it ended up in the back of the net.”
It was part of a comeback effort that had spanned nearly the entire match after the Mohigans took a lead almost as soon as play started.
Morgantown grabbed the advantage on its first chance of the match when Sammie Brown headed home a corner kick from Michaela August to give the Mohigans a 1-0 lead just seven minutes in.
Hurricane’s Olivia Bird collected four of her seven saves in the opening 45 minutes to keep the Redskins within striking distance.
Hurricane played without Bailey Fisher, the Redskins’ talented sophomore who scored 66 goals this season and was nearly two-thirds of the team’s offensive production leading up to the state tournament. Fisher tore her ACL in the regional final win over Parkersburg South.
Fisher’s absence was felt early as the Redskins struggled to move forward against the Mohigans’ defense.
Prior to the contest, Hurricane coach Shelly Young was honored as the National Federation of High School Coaches Association Girls Soccer Coach of the Year.
Hedgesville 2, George Washington 1: All season long, Hedgesville never gave up more than one goal in a match. So when the Eagles got their second goal with under one minute left in the first half, both sides knew how crucial that was.
Hedgesville’s defense made that second goal stand up by possessing the ball in the second half and George Washington never got the equalize.
“It was tough because I thought after we tied the game with the goal, I thought we had momentum to go to the break and talk about it,” George Washington coach Ali Sadeghian said. “Unfortunately, in the blink of an eye, we made a simple mistake and didn’t cover well defensively. They took advantage of it.”
Caroline Burton came up with the game’s most crucial goal just seconds before halftime when she took a ball in the box and beat Mary Lyle Smith to the far post with a shot.
The goal restored momentum for the Eagles after they had dictated play in the first half, but found themselves in a 1-all tie late in the half after a clearing attempt ricocheted off of George Washington’s Ava Trethewey and into the net.
Hedgesville had allowed just four goals all season going into the semfinals.
The Eagles’ Hannah Horn dropped a pass to freshman Tessa Grisez, who scored in the third minute to produce an early lead.
That lead stuck until the 35th minute when George Washington used a handball at midfield to send a free kick long into the box. Hedgesville had three defenders surrounding the ball, but Trethewey ran through the clearance attempt. The ball deflected off her leg and into the net to knot the game.
While the result did not end in the Patriots’ favor, Sadeghian said the experience gained this year is a huge building block for the future. George Washington (15-6-2) loses just two seniors while playing a wealth of freshmen, including Trethewey.
“This team, we started about three months ago and we never expected to be this far,” Sadeghian said. “I’m very proud of them. They just surprised us game after game and did a great job to come this far.”