Prep soccer: Irish boys, girls advance in different fashion
RIPLEY, W.Va. -- Get ready Beckley. The Irish are back.
The Charleston Catholic boys and girls soccer teams both qualified for next week's State Tournament, though, in drastically different fashions in the Class AA-A Region 4 championships on Tuesday night at Ripley High.
Granted, the top-ranked Irish boys have not missed a trip to Beckley since the addition of a Class AA-A division five years ago. They will be going for a fourth consecutive title after rolling to a 4-0 win over second-ranked Williamstown.
But after winning the first three titles in Class AA-A, the Irish girls were knocked out in sectional play last season. They received their return ticket to Beckley by virtue of a 2-1 shootout win over top-ranked Sissonville.
"That was my main goal," Charleston Catholic Coach Amy Mullen said. "To get us to the state tournament."
Her daughter, Payton Mullen, gave the Irish the lead midway through the first half.
The Indians (19-3) countered eight minutes into the second half when freshman Karli Pinkerton found the back of the net.
After that the teams threatened a few times with Sissonville winning the battle for quantity of shots and fourth-ranked Catholic (14-5-2) getting the better shots including one by Mullen that hit off the right post.
The Indians had trouble finishing against the Irish defense.
"They just stuck in there," the first-year coach said. "They bent but they didn't break."
That Sissonville star Lydia Murray was obviously hurting most of the game greatly hampered the Indians on the offensive end.
"She has not been 100 percent for the second half of the season," Sissonville Coach Ali Sadeghian said. "Her lower back has been bothering her."
During every pause in play Murray could be seen bending over and trying to stretch out her back. Whenever she was able to become involved in the offense for any period of time she had to spend a couple of minutes bent over recovering.
When the game came down to a shootout Sadeghian did not feel comfortable putting the top goal-scorer in Kanawha Valley girls prep soccer history into the lineup.
"She was hurt, she wasn't confident," he said. "I was afraid she couldn't take a good shot on goal."
As it turned out only two of the five Sissonville players were able to do that.
Meanwhile the Irish received shootout goals from Mullen, Brianne Ross and the game-winner from Sophia Bumgarner.
Each keeper, Annie Crockett for Catholic and Brooke Reed for Sissonville, made one save in the shootout.
"I can't believe we lost this game," Sadeghian said. "We had so many chances."
It marked the fourth time in the last five years the Irish have eliminated the Indians in a tight regional final.
The boys game had no such suspense.
Sam Revercomb gave Charleston Catholic a 1-0 lead going into the half. The Irish then put away the game with three goals in 13 minutes early in the second half.
Adam Fox started the onslaught at the 35:23 mark followed by Anthony Cipollone finding the net with 22:57 remaining and William Scriptunas finishing the scoring just 36 seconds later.
"They were packing the box on us in the first half," Catholic Coach Sam Fox said. "We made some adjustments at halftime and pushed the ball wide instead of down the center."
"Once we got the second goal they couldn't pack it in anymore."
Williamstown keeper Garrett Butler finished with eight saves, while Mitch Thorsteinson had two for the Irish.