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Girls soccer: Sissonville blanks Charleston Catholic, earns State Tournament trip

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sissonville was finally able to rain on the parade of Charleston Catholic Thursday night, and the Indians have waited a long time to do so.

 The Indians finally got past their archrival, knocking off Catholic 2-0 in a driving rainstorm in the second half in the Region 4 championship at Ripley High School in a battle of the top two teams in Class AA/A.

Despite being one of the top girls soccer programs in the state over the years, Sissonville's Achilles heel has often been the Irish.  Catholic has kept the Indians from reaching the State tournament several times.

With the victory, the No. 1 ranked Indians (20-0-3) remain unbeaten on the season and advance to face Fairmont Senior at next week's State Tournament in Beckley. Sissonville plays Fairmont Senior at 9:30 a.m. next Friday.

No. 2 Catholic ends its season at 19-2-2.  

"It's been a long time coming," Sissonville coach Ali Sadeghian said.

"We had to do everything right to make it happen. I'm so proud of the girls. They knew exactly what was on the line, and they worked at it, and did a great job."

The Sissonville-Charleston Catholic rivalry has had its share of close calls, including Catholic's double-overtime regional final win in 2008.

Also, there was Catholic's triple-overtime regional final win in 2009 and last season's win over the Indians, 2-1 on penalty kicks.

The Irish's winning streak over Sissonville extended much longer than just regional finals. Sadeghian indicated the last time the Indians were able to knock off Catholic was six years ago in a 2-0 victory.

"This is the fifth year in a row for me losing the game to them," Sadeghian said. "It means a lot to me personally. I'm the common denominator in all the losses in the past. We weren't going to let that happen again.

"I'm very excited and happy for this group of girls. Their determination and heart was different than we had in the previous years. I'm very proud of the girls."  

The victory was very emotional for the players as well.

"I can't even explain it," said Sissonville junior Taylor Rhodes, with tears in her eyes. "We play them every year and haven't been successful in the past. It's an amazing feeling. It's so important. Now we have another chance at states."

"It a really big win and it feels really good to beat them," said Sissonville sophomore Madison Jones, who had a hand in both Indians scores with a goal and an assist. "It was big. It ended up being more mental than anything.

Sissonville wasted no time, jumping on the Irish early, tallying the first goal of the game less than four minutes into the game at the 36:30 mark. Karli Pinkerton scored off an assist from Madison Jones. Jones got in on the action, netting a goal on a beautiful strike from about 20 yards away with 21:43 remaining in the game to put the Indians in a strong position with a 2-0 lead that it wouldn't relinquish.

The early goals that proved to be the difference in the game was huge for the players in getting over the nerves of the big game against their rivals in Catholic.

"The first goal was tremendous," Jones said. "It took the pressure off of us. The second one just even made it better. That took even more pressure off but 3-0 would have been even nicer."

Added Rhodes, "It gets a lot of pressure off your shoulders. We kept the intensity up and then we got another goal to finish it up. It was kind of like a safety point."

While Sissonville got production from its offensive stars in Jones and Pinkerton, each now with 38 goals on the season, Indians sophomore goalkeeper Brooke Reed also was up to the task in goal.

Catholic featured the area's top goal scorer, sophomore Caroline Dundervill, who scored 41 this season. But in what Sadeghian said was the first shutout against Catholic in their 23 games this season, Reed made five critical and difficult saves.

The significance of the big game seemed evident to the Indians. Sissonville, less than 25 miles from Ripley, brought a strong contingent, including a student section that seemed to triple that of Catholic's.

"We are very pleased and fortunate to have the support of our fans and student section," Sadeghian said.

"They have always been there and showed up. We are one of those teams that even when we play away, we always draw fans. That is the way Sissonville people are."

Catholic coach Amy Mullen was unavailable for comment.


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