MORGANTOWN — Regulation and overtime proved to be not enough time as Morgantown High’s girls’ soccer team came out with a 2-1 win after a shootout over cross-town rival University in the Region I, Section II final at Pony Lewis Field.
“I must congratulate both teams. It was a great battle,” Morgantown coach Stirlin Rivers said after the game. “There’s no better feeling to play a game like this and come out victorious. It was excellent.”
MHS dominated the first half — outshooting University 12-4. The Mohigans had several chances within the first 15 minutes, but came up short, until junior Sammie Brown notched an unassisted goal while the teams were in transition.
The rest of the first half consisted of missed opportunities from both squads, particularly Morgantown — which had at least five chances to add to its lead but University senior goalkeeper Corinne Grabow made some nice saves to keep the Hawks within striking distance.
The second half was a totally different story though because it University that was on the attack.
The Hawks were much more aggressive to start the second half — tallying six shots to four for Morgantown.
“In the first 15 minutes, we just couldn’t get ourselves in the sync that we were in,” Rivers said.
Finally, UHS managed to break the Morgantown defense — with just less than 25 minutes left in the second half — when senior Ari Christiansen used her head to put the ball past MHS senior goalkeeper Jordan August to tie the game.
“We didn’t play our style in the first half when we let MHS take it to us,” University coach Graham Peace said. “In the second half, I told them to press more and I think it worked. We generated the goal, but we used up so much energy, I think, doing that that we sort of tailed off at the end.”
MHS (16-4) and UHS traded possessions the remainder of the second half and overtime — which didn’t consist of very many scoring chances, but both teams had a few opportunities that came close.
“They started playing our style of possessing the ball and we were panicking and freaking out,” Rivers said. “Later on, we started possessing the game and we got back our style.
“When I look at the game, especially in overtime, it got a little more comfortable for us because we stuck to our style of play.”
In the second period of overtime, the Hawks thought they might’ve caught a break with two minutes remaining when the officials called a foul on MHS to set up a free kick right in front of the goal. The Mohigans tightened up defensively though and the costly error didn’t hurt them too much.
In the shootout, Morgantown scored on its first chance and University wasn’t able to rally from the deficit. The Mohigans won with three penalty kicks to University’s one which was enough to go home as the winner.
“It was a tough loss. PK’s are a crap shoot. Anybody can win them. All credit to MHS. They made theirs, we didn’t make ours and they deserve to move on,” Peace said. “Again, all credit to MHS. They’re a fantastic soccer team. Good luck to them. They’re from Morgantown so we’re going to cheer for them going forward.”
MHS connected on three of its four chances in the shootout. August — who finished the game with five saves — had a few diving saves to keep her team with the lead, and Alyssa Weaver, Brown and Michaela August scored the three goals it took to win. Tristan Bright scored the lone goal for UHS in the shootout and Grabow finished the game with nine saves.
Morgantown will now advance to Regionals next week. Rivers commented that he was “excited” for it.
Twitter @priceisright53 SPrice@DominionPost.com