WHEELING – Catholic Central has been knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten.
The Linsly boys’ soccer team scored two goals in the first half en route to a 2-0 victory over the Crusaders in an OVAC Cup Tournament semifinal Saturday afternoon at Wheeling Island Stadium.
“I wouldn’t say it was frustrating,” Catholic Central (11-1-1) head coach Steve Kopcha said. “I am proud of the way we competed. Things just did not turn out in our favor.
“We competed. The kids represented us the best they could. That is all you can ever ask of them.”
The Cadets played a strong game defensively and they did enough offensively to win the game.
“The first time we played it was early in the season,” Linsly (11-3) head coach Eric Fries said. “I think it was the second game. Leo (Herrmann) hadn’t established himself yet. He wasn’t on the map.
“We put one of our backs on him, and he shut him down. Alec Reed did a good job on him. He played his normal position. He did a good job. I don’t think Leo had a shot.
“From where we started to where we are right now, our skill level has improved. We are keeping possession of the ball.
“We are moving the ball from side to side on the field. When we do that, teams get gassed.
“We outskill teams. We outclass them. We outhustle them. We outplay them.
“I think that happened today. I think they died out in the second half. Our goal coming in was to get a shutout. We wanted to get a shutout and to score one more goal than they did. We did that today.
“Our role players did a good job. They came in and gave our starters a break. Our bench was excited. They care that we are going back to the finals.”
Linsly will play Morgantown (10-1-1) in the tournament final at 7:30 p.m. Monday on the same turf. Morgantown advanced to the tournament final by defeating Wheeling Park, 2-1, in Saturday’s second semifinal matchup of the day. The Mohigans are the defending tournament champions.
Colin Riley and Cole Holubeck scored for the Cadets.
“We beat the Division II champion (Steubenville) and now we have beaten the Division III champions,” Fries said. “It would be nice if we could beat the Division I champion as well. That is what I am hoping for, but we are excited to be playing either team. We are looking forward to the game.”
The Cadets were able to shutdown the Crusaders’ high-scoring offense.
“They tightened up their defense,” Kopcha said. “They were marking Leo for most of the game.
“I think both teams made adjustments. They were a little better today.”
John Bolster made six saves in goal for Catholic Central.
Linsly’s Daniel Truong made two saves.
Riley put the Cadets on the scoreboard when he converted a penalty kick with 28:08 left to play in the first half. Linsly was awarded the penalty kick as a result of a handball in the penalty box.
“Catholic Central is a solid team,” Fries said. “We have come into our own. We were missing one of our starters. There is a chance he could play Monday. We will have to wait and see if he can go.”
The Cadets added to their advantage when Holubeck scored off of an assist by Sung Bok Yoo with 10:58 left before halftime.
“I am proud of our defense,” Kopcha said. “They gave us an opportunity by keeping the game close. Give credit to the Linsly defense.
“We gave a good effort, but they came out with the better result.”
The Crusaders have now been blanked in two out of their last three games. Big Red played Catholic Central to a scoreless draw Sept. 21 at the Tony Recinella Soccer Field.
Catholic Central is scheduled to return the field at 5 p.m. Tuesday night against Wheeling Central at home.
“Our schedule is good,” Kopcha said. “We were in a position that if we did make it to the final we would have had to cancel a game. We have three games left from here on out.”