Prep soccer: GW turns tables on Irish girls
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Two of the state's top girls soccer programs in Charleston Catholic and George Washington share the same town, though just one took hold of the "City Cup" at Schoenbaum Stadium Tuesday evening.
The respected teams, both currently ranked among the state's top five in their respected classes, faced in the first-ever "City Cup" championship, as fourth-ranked AAA GW defeated AA/A No. 1 Catholic, 2-1.
"Catholic has always been a huge rival, even since when I was playing (at GW), and the girls knew that coming in," first-year Patriots Coach Megan Johnson said. "There was a lot of talk about this game coming up. I mean it's a big game, no matter if they're AA or AAA, and we came out ready to go.
"The girls, they were tired. I know they were tired and exhausted, but they played with heart, and that is why we won."
The meeting of the soccer teams pitted two of the most successful programs in recent history against each other. Since the girls soccer state tournament split into two classes, Catholic has won the AA/A title three times, with GW finishing AAA runner-up twice.
With Tuesday's victory, GW snapped Catholic's 16-game regular-season winning streak.
"They're a great team," Irish Coach Amy Mullen said of the Patriots. "We knew that they would be tough. We're just a small little school and they've got double the numbers than us. We love to play GW, we always come out to play. We have to play teams like this, so that we know we can try to win the state championship."
Each of the game's three goals occurred in the first half as defense and missed opportunities dominated play thereafter.
GW junior Sarah Bodnar scored both Patriots goals, with the first 11 minutes into play and the second on a header four minutes later. With the pair of goals, Bodnar increased her season total to 14.
"Those goals were crucial, and Sarah Bodnar did a great job finishing both of those goals," Johnson said.
With three and a half minutes left in the first half, Irish senior Caroline Dundervill tallied her 34th goal of the season to cut the deficit in half.
The goal marked the final score of the game for either team, with defensive play taking control from that point.
Johnson said goalkeeper Olivia Miller, a verbal commit to James Madison University, played pivotal with her four saves.
"Olivia Miller just saved our butts, because she made some great saves (on shots) that could have easily turned this game around, so it was great job offensively and defensively," she said.
Bodnar said she agreed the Patriots won with collective effort.
"We just worked really hard and played as a team," she said. "It was a really well-played game and it's a really great award to play against this team and actually beat them."
Mullen said the Irish suffered its first loss of the season as the result of a sluggish start.
"We didn't show up to play the first half and the second half we realized 'Oh, we got to start moving to the ball, being first to the ball,'" she said. "We were just slow to start. Caroline had a couple opportunities and we had some open goals, but so did they. It was a tough game."
Catholic had previously recorded nine shutouts and allowed two goals in a game just three times this season.
Offensively, the Irish entered with three of the top 10 goal scorers in the Kanawha Valley, but for the first time all season scored fewer than three goals.
Though the loss marked the lone blemish to Catholic's otherwise undefeated record, Mullen said the contest provided a great opportunity for both programs in the first-ever City Cup.
"It's really nice to be a part of it," she said. "This should be this kind of a game, because we all know each other and we all play on travel teams together. To get to play in the City Cup, it breaks up the monotony of the season and it's nice."
For GW, the victory provides a boost as the postseason approaches.
"It gives us a lot of confidence," Johnson said. "I told the ladies today that we can beat 90 percent of the teams, it's that 10 percent we just can't seem to get across, and this is one of the teams I feel is in that 10 percent and beating them gives us confidence to go into the tournament and ready to play."
GW next plays host to Spring Valley in the Mountain State Athletic Conference third-place game to be held 6 p.m. Thursday at Trace Fork. Catholic next plays at Fairmont Senior 2 p.m. Saturday.