Crusaders slip past Weir High

STEUBENVILLE – Converting a penalty kick is harder than it looks.

Maria Luther recorded a goal and two assists to lead the Catholic Central girls’ soccer team to a 3-2 victory over Weir Monday evening at the Tony Recinella Soccer Field.

The Red Riders converted one of two penalty kicks in the second half.

Catholic Central junior Ana McNamara netted the game-winning goal with less than 10 minutes to play in the game, enabling the Crusaders to even their record at 3-3-1.

McNamara’s goal came after the Red Riders (3-4) scored twice in the second half to erase a 2-0 halftime deficit.

“I told them at halftime that we hadn’t seen Weir High’s best shot,” Catholic Central head coach David LaRue said. “I told them that I thought we lost focus early in the second half. That is natural.

“We kept battling. We kept winning battles.

“We were unfortunate with the penalty kicks. We were lucky on one.

“I think we dominated possession. I think they played more for the counter attack, and they had some good ones. We are starting to develop some plays. We passed the ball well. We were looking for shots. We could have had more go in.”

Catholic Central controlled the first half, but Weir responded and the Red Riders stepped up their level of play in the second half.

“We definitely looked like a different team,” Weir head coach Jessica Naughton said. “We dug ourselves a little hole that we needed to get out of. It was nice to be able to get those two goals back. We didn’t give up.

“Their long throw-ins beat us. They did a good of utilizing them against us. They used them well. They were able to get in transition with them, and we didn’t get back.

“Their keeper made some good saves to keep them in it. Our goal made some nice saves as well.”

Senior Moriah Vosteen made nine saves in goal for Catholic Central.

Alyssa Kelly tallied 10 saves in the match for Weir.

Jackie DuBois also scored a goal for the Crusaders.

Alyssa Shingle and Raegan Stead netted the goals for the Red Riders. Both goals were unassisted. Stead’s goal came off of a rebound, and Shingle scored on a PK.

The Crusaders outshot the Red Riders, 18-12, in the game. Catholic Central took 13 shots on goal, while Weir ripped 11. The visitors took 11 goal kicks, while the hosts took just three. The girls from Jefferson County took five corner kicks, while the girls from Hancock County took four.

DuBois opened the scoring in the first half off of a feed from Luther to put the Crusaders out in front, 1-0.

Later, Luther recorded her goal when she was able to gather in a loose ball and fire a shot into the net past Kelly. The ball bounced off Kelly before rolling into the net making the score 2-0.

Trailing by two goals, the Red Riders came out to start the second half.

“They started filling in the gaps in the space between our defenders,” LaRue said. “They were able to counterattack.

“We need to do a better job of organizing in the back. We are great when there is no pressure, but when there is pressure we make mistakes. We had some touches. We need to make good touches, so we can clear the ball.

“We had some opportunities to score more goals. We had opportunities to make it a bigger margin. You have to give credit to their keeper. She made some good saves. Our goalie made some good saves, too.”

Three minutes into the second stanza, the Crusaders were called for a foul in the penalty box giving the Red Riders a penalty kick.

Shingle stepped up to the line to take the kick. Unfortunately for Weir, Shingle’s shot sailed over Vosteen’s head and over the goal keeping the Red Riders’ deficit at two goals.

Despite the letdown of the missed opportunity, the Red Riders were undeterred.

Two minutes later, Weir once again found itself with a golden opportunity, and this time the Red Riders capitalized.

Francesca Farran fired a shot on goal, but Vosteen made the save, but the ball bounced away from the keeper. Stead gathered in the ball, and she was able to knock the ball into the net past Vosteen cutting Catholic Central’s lead to 2-1.

Down by one goal, the Red Riders kept pushing forward trying to score the equalizer. About 10 minutes later, the Red Riders found what they were looking for.

Farran was on the receiving end of a pass, and she made her way past the Crusaders’ defense and into a one-on-one opportunity with Vosteen. Farran was able to elude the Catholic Central net minder, and appeared to be on her way to tying the goal.

Knowing she was beaten on the play, Vosteen made a couple of attempts to get back into the play from behind. Vosteen attempted to make a diving save, but Farran ended up being knocked down on the play resulting in another penalty kick for the Red Riders.

Once again, Shingle took the kick, and this time she was able to bury her shot into the net tying the score at 2-all 15 minutes into the second half.

“I have taken penalty kicks, and they are nerve-racking,” Naughton said. “I think the goalie is more nervous. The shooter just has to pick a place and hit it.

“After kicking and missing the first one, it was great to see Alyssa come back and redeem herself on the second one.

“The goalie came out. I would have done the same thing. She made the right decision. You have a 50/50 chance of stopping it, or you can let them play it right in.”

Naughton knows what it is like to miss a penalty kick.

“I missed a lot of penalty kicks in my career,” Naughton said. “Alyssa is not afraid. She showed why I have a lot of confidence in her. She has a lot of confidence in herself. It is hard coming from kicking a football to coming here.

“We did a good job of coming back and scoring those two goals.”

Both teams are scheduled to return to the pitch Thursday on the road.

Weir will play at 6:30 p.m. at Morgantown. Catholic Central will play at Dover. The Crusaders and Tornadoes will play a JV game at 5 p.m. The varsity game will follow.

“It was a very-good soccer match,” LaRue said. “That is what you like to see. One team came back to score two goals. We just had enough in the end to get the job done.”