BECKLEY — The Morgantown girls’ soccer team defeated Hedgesville 2-1 in the semifinals of the WVSSAC Girls State Soccer Tournament Thursday morning at Paul Cline Memorial Stadium in Beckley.
The Mohigans overcame an early 1-0 deficit after the opening goal was scored by the Eagles less than five minutes into the start of the match. Gracie Brown equalized late in the first half and Emily Carpenter scored the go-ahead goal 15 minutes into the second half to complete the comeback for MHS.
MHS advances to Saturday’s championship game where it will square off against Parkersburg South with a chance to defend its 2022 title.
“We knew this was going to be a fight, seeding numbers mean nothing right now,” MHS head coach Bri Frontuto said. “I expected at least one goal to come from that sort of play that our first one did. I’m so proud of the team and they’ve definitely earned this chance.”
The Eagles began the game on the front foot, possessing the ball on offense for nearly all of the opening five minutes. They were rewarded for the positive play when striker Abby Johnson rifled a shot from the top of the 18-yard box with her left foot that curled into the back of the net, giving her team a 1-0 lead four minutes into the match.
“The goal came early and five minutes into the first state tournament game I wasn’t sure how we would respond,” Frontuto said. “We have a lot of young players on the team and so we expected the nerves but I know the ability of the team and the level-headedness that they are able to have.”
The Mohigans settled into the match well after conceding the opening goal and controlled the majority of the ball on offense for the remainder of the first half. The Hedgesville defense held firm without allowing the Mohigans to see too many threatening chances on goal.
Just when it seemed that the Eagles would hold on for a 1-0 lead entering the locker room, the Mohigans earned a dangerous free kick just outside of the 18-yard box. Ariana Borneo sent the ball into the box and the Eagles failed to properly clear the danger. Gracie Brown was the first to react to the loose ball and placed it into the net to tie the game at one goal each with 3:40 left until halftime.
“Gracie Brown is an incredible player and she has the high IQ to make plays,” Frontuto said. “That trickles down throughout the team to her teammates and she does nothing but make our team go.”
The second half opened as the first did, with the Eagles seeing more positive offensive possession and not allowing the Mohigans to break out for a fast break. But just as they did in the first half, MHS settled into the game and began to take control of the field.
After multiple chances for a goal in the first half, Carpenter finally found her goal on a fast break. Borneo played an inch-perfect pass from midfield into the path of Carpenter’s run. She controlled the pass and rifled a shot into the back of the net for the go-ahead goal with 26:37 left in the match.
Her goal would prove to be the difference in the game, as MHS advanced with a 2-1 victory over Hedgesville.
“This team has faced adversity all year and has responded every time,” Frontuto said. “They’ve earned the spot in the championship and the opportunity to defend their title.”
Morgantown and Parkersburg South battled to a 1-1 draw in their only meeting this season. The Patriots advanced to the championship with a 2-0 win over George Washington.