Girls State Soccer Tournament: Indians cruise past Irish
Charleston Catholic first-year girls soccer Coach Amy Mullen knew her youthful Irish would have their fair share of ups and downs during the season while starting five freshmen.
Despite their inexperience, Catholic battled their way through their growing pains, and turned in an impressive season, making it all the way to the State Tournament.
It all caught up with them there Tuesday.
Bridgeport scored less than four minutes into the game and went on to put four goals on the scoreboard in the first 22 minutes in earning an easy 7-0 victory at the Trace Fork Soccer Complex in South Charleston.
The top seeded Indians (18-4-1) advance to the championship game against Fairmont Senior today, again at Trace Fork, 30 minutes after the Class AA/A boys title contest that starts at 10 a.m.
Meanwhile, it was the worst loss of the season for Catholic (15-6-2). The Irish were defeated three times during the regular season by three goals (Wheeling Park 4-1, University 3-0, and Winfield 4-1). All three were against Class AAA teams.
Mullen admitted the nerves might have gotten to her Irish, and that the Bridgeport girls fed off them.
"We are really young and were nervous coming out onto the field, and they (Bridgeport) knew it," Mullen said. "Caroline (Dundervill) even said one of their players said we were scared.
"A lot of our freshmen girls haven't even seen a State Tournament. They've never even seen the national anthem being played and the teams coming out like that. To be here and be a part of it, we were nervous."
Bridgeport's Mikayla Oliverio opened the floodgates with 36:51 left in the first half, and less than five minutes later, Lauren McCarthy scored for a quick 2-0 lead.
The Indians didn't let their foot off the pedal, scoring two more goals in the first half to push an insurmountable lead to 4-0 at halftime. Natalie Prater scored with 19:53 left in the half and Amanda Saymon added one less than two minutes later at the 17:56 mark.
Both coaches admitted that Bridgeport scoring the first goal so early was a major turning point for the game.
"I kept thinking it we could hold off a goal for five minutes, we would be ok, and we couldn't," Mullen said. "They scored that first goal, and we continued to shake."
Reese knew it too.
"To get the first goal was important," Bridgeport coach John Reese said. "Just because we have an experienced team playing against a very young team. If you get a young team down, and that's what our girls did, it's tough to come back on. They (Catholic) are so inexperienced."
Bridgeport scored three more times in the second half on a goal by Oliverio with 29:36 left, Reagen Marple added one at the 3:33 mark, and Tori Coulter finished off the scoring with 2:22 remaining in the game.
Despite the disappointing loss in the semi-finals, the future looks extremely bright for Catholic with nine freshmen on the team. The top three goals scorers on the team this season for the Irish were freshman in Dundervill, Peyton Keener, and Peyton Mullen.
"We are really looking forward to it," Dundervill said. "We have three years ahead of us. I think it's going to be a fun time. Hopefully we are able to get back to the state championship."
Fairmont Senior 2, PikeView 1 - In the other girls semifinal, it looked as if PikeView would advance to play Bridgeport in the championship game after leading Fairmont Senior late in the game.
The Panthers (16-5-2) controlled most of the game and led 1-0 when Fairmont Senior scored the equalizing goal by Brianna Woodburn with 9:43 remaining in the game, giving the Polar Bears new life.
The newly energized Polar Bears (15-8-1) kept pushing, and Ivey Nucilli scored the game-winning goal with just 3:52 left to send the Polar Bears to the championship game against Bridgeport, shocking Pikeview.
"I just knew they had it in their hearts to come back and win the game," Fairmont Senior Coach Debbie Cattafesta said. "They came into this game today wanting it more than anything than I've seen any group of girls want."
Disappointed and frustrated that his Panthers gave up the 1-0 lead with 10 minutes left, Pikeview Coach Sam Hill skipped out on the media session after the game.