Linsly edges Big Red boys 1-0

POSITIONING — Steubenville’s Justice Slappy and Linsly’s Skylar Camps battle for position during Thursday’s game. (Photo by Kyle Lutz)

WHEELING — When two solid soccer teams face each other, it is imperative to be able to capitalize on second- chance opportunities because they will not come around all too often. The Linsly and Steubenville boys soccer teams experienced that Thursday evening at the East Wheeling Complex.

The Cadets’ Diego Solano scored a goal on a second- chance opportunity, being in the right place at the right time. He found the back of the net after he rebounded a ball off a blocked shot by Big Red’s goalkeeper.

It was the difference as Linsly went on to secure the victory over Steubenville in a defensive battle, 1-0.

The game was a little bit different for the Cadets as it was moved from their home field to the East Wheeling Complex because of extreme rainfall earlier in the week.

“It took us a little bit to grow into that game,” Linsly coach Greg Martin said. “That’s the first time we’ve played on turf this year instead of natural grass. We were kind of a step slow in that first half. Give Steubenville a lot of credit, they have a lot of good athletes out there playing. They made it difficult for us that’s for sure. But we were able to put our nose to the ground and really grind one out there in the end”

The first half saw both goalkeepers staying busy as Linsly’s Chaz Gaphery and Steubenville’s Jacob Clevenger made a handful of saves to keep the game scoreless at the half.

“When two really good teams are playing and there’s not much of a difference, sometimes it is how that ball bounces,” Martin said. “We were fortunate that it bounced right to our guy’s feet and he was in a good spot being aggressive and tucked it away.”

Clevenger finished with 10 saves while Gaphery secured nine.

Steubenville looked to start the second half quick as in the opening minute it saw an open shot, but the ball went over the goal.

“Both teams had opportunities and they were able to capitalize on the first, but we’re proud of our team’s effort (Thursday),” Steubenville coach Greg Bowers said. “That was a much better effort than we gave last week, which was what we were looking for us to do.”

For Linsly’s goal, Arman Toyserkani had a nice look at the goal and took a shot.

Clevenger made a solid save. However, Solano was the first one to get to the ball and was able to tuck it away.

Steubenville and Linsly are in contention for the OVAC tournament as Big Red is in second place in Class 5A while Linsly is sits at third in 1A/3A.

Steubenville has a couple of big games before the tournament rolls around.

“We’ll see what it does for us,” Bowers said. “We have two more tough tests before the cutoff with Wheeling Park and Weir next week, so we’ll see where the cards play. This is the effort we need every game and if we give this effort every game, we’ll get better and good things will happen for us.”

With the victory over Big Red, Martin said it will help give his team confidence moving forward.

“That’s a huge win for us,” Martin said. “It’s a confidence booster for us for sure going into OVACs with it a week away, really. Huge confidence booster for sure. That’s one of the better teams we beat this year. All the credit to them (Big Red). They played hard and made it hard for us and we’ll take some confidence away from it. If we can compete with those guys, we can compete with those guys in the OVAC. We’re excited.”