Prep soccer: Catholic girls clinch sectional crown
POCA, W.Va. - All season, a highly anticipated rematch in the regional final was expected between the Charleston Catholic and Sissonville girls soccer programs.
The two squared off last season with the Irish claiming victory in penalty kicks after neither team could score a goal in a total of 70 minutes of soccer - two regulation periods and four overtime periods 40-minute regulation periods - en route to a State Tournament berth.
Catholic (19-1-2) held up its end of the deal, advancing to the regional final with a 6-0 win over St. Joseph at Poca High School Wednesday on a cold night with temperatures in the 30s and rain in the second half.
Sissonville will look to do the same, but it has a tough matchup against Herbert Hoover in a sectional championship game tonight at Coonskin Park's Schoenbaum Stadium. Last week, the Indians earned a 1-0 victory over the Huskies on a late penalty kick.
Catholic is ranked No. 2 in Class AA/A with Sissonville earning the top spot after finishing the regular season undefeated (18-0-3). Hoover is ranked No. 11.
"It feels really good to be where we are," Catholic Coach Amy Mullen said. "It is fantastic. We have worked very hard to get there. It was one step at a time. We are ready to go."
In turning in her 12th shutout of the season, Catholic senior goalkeeper Annie Crockett was pleased.
"I think it sounds really good," said Crockett, on being back in the regional final. "We have been focused on the season and waiting on regionals. Our season starts now. We are going to do our best. We are peaking at the right time and coming together as a team.
"It was a big relief tonight. You go into the game and you are never really sure. The other team is motivated. You hope you can step it up and thank goodness we did. We played like we should and now we are moving on."
Crockett is a part of a strong six member senior class that has experienced plenty of success in the Irish program, and they hope to end their careers on a high note.
"We need to get to the state tournament," Crockett said. "That would make the season. The season can't end at regionals."
"It would be fantastic," Mullen said. "They were with me from the beginning being a state champion as freshmen. I would love to see them end it like that. It would be great for them to have it and we will miss them."
Now Mullen and the Irish will turn their attention to either favored Sissonville or an upstart Hoover squad next week.
"Sissonville would be just as tough as they were last year," Mullen said. "We have to be prepared and on our game. Hoover is going to come out tough, too. They only lost to Sissonville by a penalty kick. They are fired up. That is going to be a good game (today)."