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Morgantown girls’ soccer midfielders key in shutout over University

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The key to success for the Morgantown girls’ soccer team lies in the middle of the pitch.

The Mohigans always seem to play at their best when their midfield comes alive, and Tuesday was no different. As MHS hosted crosstown rival University, it moved the ball efficiently and effortlessly through the center of the field, outshooting its opponent 16-6 on the way to a 2-0 victory.

“We always keep in mind to stay together and connected; through the defense, we know to check to the ball and work it around teams, because it gets hard for them when we move the ball forward,” MHS senior midfielder Sammie Brown said.

“Our center midfield has a knowledge of the game. Sammie and Ane (Williams) are both seniors, and they have a lot of experience in the game,” MHS coach Stirlin Rivers added.

“Sammie is lightning fast and physical, and we have people around her who can slow the game down with a nice touch and make good decisions.”

It was Brown who sent a hard shot flying at the Hawks’ (6-2-1) goal during the 16th minute of play. It was deflected by a Hawks’ defender but still found the back of the net, counting as an own goal against UHS to give the Mohigans (6-2-1) a 1-0 advantage.

The setback, combined with a few calls that didn’t go the Hawks’ way, rattled the normally composed team, which eventually set the stage to allow Mohigans’ senior forward Adelle Pacyna to the team’s second goal in the 28th minute.

“They put a lot of pressure on us, which made it difficult for us to play our game,” UHS coach Graham Peace said. “I think we got a little flustered, and we never really recovered from that.”

“When you know a team is getting overwhelmed, you have to bounce on them quick,” Brown added. “We knew with that first goal they would try and come back strong, so we kept pounding on them.”

The win gives MHS the edge over UHS in Class AAA Region I, Section 2 play, moving the Mohigans into second place in the section behind undefeated Buckhannon-Upshur.

With a win Oct. 7 against Preston and a UHS loss Oct. 12 at B-U, MHS will secure a second-place seed and first-round home game in the sectional tournament.

“We’re just trying to take it game-by-game,” Rivers said. “Some of the game we lost were very disappointing because we thought we should have came out with something, but that’s how soccer is. If you don’t score, you don’t win. So right now, we’re just trying to take it step-by-step, get back to playing the style of football we want to play, and gain confidence game-after-game.”

For the Hawks, they’re hope for a top-two sectional finish and postseason home contest hasn’t quite disappeared yet — a late-season win against B-U could force a three-way tie atop the sectional standings, forcing a tiebreaker.

To do so, Peace said his team will need to handle adversity better than it did Tuesday.

“As we move on, we need to learn to stay composed. We lost it for a bit there and it cost us, but it’s all a learning experience; we’re growing as a team and we’ll get better from this,” he said.