ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Beaver Local completed the three-peat.
In a game that proved to be everything everyone expected, sophomore midfielder Hannah Hughes scored a goal off of a free to kick in the second half to lift the Beaver Local girls' soccer team to a 1-0 victory over Edison in an Ohio Division II Eastern District sectional co-final on a cool Saturday afternoon at Red Devil Stadium.
"We have started a little bit of legacy with Beaver Local girls' soccer," Beaver Local (10-7-1) head coach Liz Connor said. "The boys' team has had success in the past, and we have been able to have some success in the last few years."
The Beavers have advanced to the Eastern District semifinals against Minerva at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday on the same turf. Minerva advanced to Tuesday night's match by defeating Carrollton, 4-2, in Saturday's second sectional co-final.
"We played Minerva during the regular season," Connor said. "Minerva beat us 2-0 in a close-fought match."
The Beavers' victory over the Wildcats (9-6-1) gave Beaver Local its third straight sectional title.
"Our games against Edison are always tough," Connor said. "I'm just glad we were able to win it in regulation time this year."
The last meetings between the Beavers and the Wildcats have gone to overtime. In 2009, Edison defeated Beaver Local in overtime. Two years ago, the Wildcats defeated the Beavers in double overtime. Last year, the girls from Columbiana County defeated the girls from Jefferson County in a shootout.
"We knew it was going to be a close game," Edison head coach Jeremy Angelo said. "We knew it was going to be a battle. We knew they were going to have opportunities, and we knew we were going to have opportunities. We knew somebody was going to win, and somebody was going to lose.
"The effort was there. The girls came to play. Sometimes you have a little luck. Sometimes you don't."
Beaver Local was awarded a free kick just outside the penalty box with a little more than 24 minutes left to play in the match. Junior midfielder Haley Tomlinson took the kick, and she sent it out wide to Hughes, who lofted a shot into the upper-far corner of the goal.
"We talk about looking at all of the options," Connor said. "Haley saw our outside wing was not marked, and Haley was able to get the ball to her."
The Wildcats spent the remainder of the game pushing forward in hopes of scoring the equalizers. Edison had a couple of good opportunities in the final-few minutes of the match, but the Beaver Local defense was able to shut the door.
"You got 80 minutes," Angelo said. "If you don't score and the other team does the game is over.
"I thought we had the better opportunities. We just couldn't put any way. They had one good opportunity, and they were able to put it away."
Both teams took seven shots in the game. The Beavers took five shots on goal, while the Wildcats took four. The girls in the white jerseys took 13 goal kicks, while the girls in the red jerseys took six. Both teams took one corner kick in the second half.
Senior Maranda Kiddey made four saves in goal for the Beavers, while the Wildcats' Katie Oinonen also made four saves.
"They had the free kick, and they had a pass to set up the shot," Angelo said. "It was a nice shot. She kicked it into the far post in the upper corner. We had an opportunity to save it, but it was a nice shot into the corner.
"Katie played well. She made some good saves. For someone who was only playing their 16th game as a goalkeeper, she did a pretty good job today."
Beaver Local advanced to the co-final by defeating rival East Liverpool, 2-0, in the sectional semifinals Tuesday night. The Beavers scored a goal in each half en route to their victory over the Potters for the third time this season.
Edison advanced to the co-final by shutting out Harrison Central, 3-0, in Tuesday night's first semifinal match. The Wildcats scored all three of their goals in the final 6:10 of the game to defeat the Huskies for the second time this season.
"We watched them play against Harrison Central Tuesday night," Connor said. "They seemed to do pretty much what they have done in the past."
The match was the final one for the Wildcats' eight seniors - Ashley Borsch, Meghan Brooks, Allie Byrley, Kylie Long, Hannah Miller, Sam Montgomery, Meghan Scott and Chelsea Zdinak.
"This group of seniors had three-winning seasons and one losing season last year," Angelo said. "They gave everything they have got. They played hard all year. They were upset about last year. They wanted to prove they were better than that.
"The leadership was great whether they were on the field or on the bench. This is our last big group. All eight came in as freshmen, and all eight played all four years.
"We have had groups of six or seven before. We have had eight, nine or 10 girls come out as freshmen, but they all wouldn't play all four years. They all came out, and they all played every year.
"I have no real complaints. They all are good kids. We have no deviants. They did everything I asked.
"The only thing they didn't do was they didn't score a couple of goals today. The effort was there. It was just the execution that wasn't there.
"The thing is they don't get to come back and try again. The underclassmen and I get to come back next year and try again."
Some of the seniors are looking to play soccer in college.
"We have a couple that is going to try and play in college," Angelo said. "I think Kylie Long wants to. Meghan Brooks might. I am not sure about Meghan Scott. I think Ashley Borsch is going to run track. I don't know about Allie Byrley. She may join her sister Jordan at Franciscan University.
"That is a credit to them and to our program. We have girls playing in college, and we have girls who want to play in college. We must be doing something right."
Beaver Local won sectional titles the past two seasons, the Beavers have been unable to make it past the district tournament and into the regional tournament. Beaver Local has lost in the district co-final in each of the past two seasons.
"This year is different," Connor said. "This year we will be playing next in the district semifinals. It is nice we will not have to go as far as we did last year.
"It looks like there is going to be another team dinner in our future."
Last year, Dover blanked Beaver Local, 6-0, in the district co-final out at Philo.
The Lions stand in the way of the Beavers as the Beaver Local looks to make it to the district co-final for the third straight season.
"We focus on what we can control," Connor said. "We can't control the refs. We control what the other team does.
"We can only control how we play and our technical ability."