Lady Bruins prepare for soccer stretch run

WHEELING – The Brooke girls’ soccer team has established itself as one of the top teams in the Ohio Valley. Now, the Bruins are looking to take the next step and become one of the top teams in the state of West Virginia.

Brooke showed exactly what it is capable of doing in delivering a dominating performance in the final OVAC Cup Soccer Tournament. Brooke capped the tournament with a 2-0 victory over Linsly Monday at Wheeling Island Stadium.

“We played well in the tournament,” Brooke (11-3-1) head coach Lee Weppler said. “We have been in the final in five out of the last six years. The girls have that mentality. They have a lot of confidence. The girls played a great tournament. I have got a great group of kids.”

Team chemistry is one of the biggest reasons for the Bruins’ success this season.

“Our team chemistry has been great,” Weppler said. “I have been the head coach for six or seven years, and this team has the best team chemistry any team I have had has had. They are coming together. It is gratifying. The girls enjoy each other. There is no jealousy. They play together as a team.

“It is the strength of the team. They play as a team. They hang out together outside of school. They get along. They enjoy being together.”

Senior Michaela Hinerman netted a goal in each half to lead the way for the Bruins.

Dynah Sayre assisted on Hinerman’s first goal, which came with 34:39 left to play in the first half.

“The girls were pretty focused,” Weppler said.” We played well the last two games. They came out ready to play. They had a lot of fun.”

Hinerman also scored a goal early in the second stanza. The senior standout sent a cross into the box where the ball was inadvertently knocked into the net by a Linsly defender. The goal gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead with 32:02 left to play in the game.

Brooke goalie Payge Farmer recorded three saves.

“I think winning this tournament will give the girls a great amount of confidence going into the rest of the year,” Weppler said. “We played and beat Park. That should give the girls confidence heading into the postseason.”

While the Bruins have the postseason to look forward to, the Cadets do not.

“We don’t have anything else to look forward to as far as tournaments go,” said Linsly (10-5-1) head coach Erica Hall, who coached the Bruins before heading up the Linsly program. “This is it.

“It is a letdown. It’s tough. We made the championship game. We made it a lot farther than a lot of other teams. I’m proud of the girls. We overcame a lot of injuries this year.”

The victory over the Cadets was the Bruins’ fourth cup title, and it was their second under Weppler.

Weppler guided the Bruins to the title in 2009. The title was the second of a back-to-back title run.

Jerod Hall, Erica’s brother, coached the Bruins to the title in 2008. Brooke’s first tournament title came in the second tournament back in 1996. That Bruins’ team was coached by Peter Veltri.

“As a coach, it is rewarding to see the girls put the time in,” Weppler said. “They pay attention to detail. They absorb what you tell them. They work hard. They listen. It is great to see them achieve their goals. You love to see them succeed.”

Brooke is one of only four schools to win a cup title, with the others being Wheeling Park, Morgantown and Linsly. The Patriots have won 12 titles, the Mohigans two and the Cadets won one.

The Cadets won the title back in 2010 to prevent a Bruins’ three-peat. Linsly won the title under the guidance of Erica Hall, a former player and coach at Brooke.

Morgantown won both of its titles in the previous two years. The Mohigans’ victories came under the guidance of head coach Ashley Neal, who played soccer at Linsly.

Brooke welcomes Edison at 5 p.m. today.

“Now, we are moving on,” Weppler said.

The Bruins, currently ranked No. 12 in the state (7th in Class AAA) have a brutal regional, with, among others, state-ranked Morgantown (No. 5) and Wheeling Park (No. 9).

“We are going to get ready for the state tournament,” said Weppler. “We have failed to make it to the state tournament. We haven’t gotten out of regionals. That is our next goal. We want to make it down to the state tournament.”