WHEELING - After watching a 2-0 lead slip away, Weir was stunned it was heading into overtime against Wheeling Central in a match it completely dominated.
Sophomore Alyssa Shingle had enough.
Taking the ball at the corner of box, she made a move on a Wheeling Central defender and lobbed a shot over the head of Maroon Knights goaltender Bri Robbins to give the Red Riders a dramatic 3-2 victory Thursday at Wheeling Island Central to claim the West Virginia Class AA/A Region One championship and a fourth straight trip to the W.Va. State Soccer Tournament in Beckley next Friday.
Weir’s Carly Lescallette (2) controls the ball as Wheeling Central’s Kristen Jarrett (7) defends during Thursday’s West Virginia Class AA-A Region One Final at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Photo by Josh Strope
''It feels good to be going back down,'' Shingle said. ''I got to play down there as a freshman so I know what to expect and now as a sophomore, I am even more prepared.
''(On the goal) I cut inside and I was actually looking for a through (ball) to the right side of the net and it just turned out that my shot opened up and I took it. The next thing I knew it was in the back of the net.''
It was a game that might be one that could set Shingle on a hot streak at the right time. She also scored Weir's first goal on a pass from Francesca Rock in the 15th minute.
''It was big, very big,'' Weir coach Jessica Naughton said. ''She has been trying. Her shots have been a little off in practice but she has kept shooting and kept shooting. She likes to come across, obviously with the dominant right foot, and finally got the nice, easy, over the top, over the goalie, and into the corner. It was a great shot.''
Meghan Finton put the Red Riders (12-5-1) on top 2-0 in the 35th minute with a high shot that Robbins got her fingertips to but despite her best efforts, couldn't keep from crossing over the goal line.
Wheeling Central (12-7) had very little offense with two shots entering the locker room, spending most the time on its heels.
The Maroon Knights got the break they needed 70 seconds into the second half as a through ball from Sarah Nolan got past the Weir defense, as did Wheeling Central's Ashton Cross, who buried her 1-on-1 opportunity against Weir goalie Taylor Gianangeli to bring the team within one.
''We knew we were still in the game,'' Wheeling Central coach David Cross said. ''We were lucky to come out and get the first goal and I think we had them on the defensive most of the second half.''
Weir had a chance to put the nail in Central's coffin late in the match, but Shingle's free kick from just outside the penalty box hit the top of the crossbar and bounced out to Robbins.
Minutes later, Wheeling Central got the equalizer as Mary Stahl stole the ball from a Weir defender deep in Red Riders territory and crossed it to a wide-open Beth Stayduhar. The junior's shot got past Gianangeli and into the corner to tie the score at 2-2.
Wheeling Central's only two shots of the second half found their way into the back of the net.
''Wheeling Central did a heckuva job and our girls really picked it up the last 10 minutes so we are happy to get out of here with a win,'' Naughton said. ''We had so many opportunities at the beginning of the game to make it 4-0, 5-0 and they just wouldn't go in for us. Wheeling Central went at it and at it and our defense broke down a couple times and they got those two goals.
''It was frustrating but it was nice to see them come back.''
Added Shingle: ''We were talking in the huddle before overtime and we decided we wanted this more than anyone else. We decided we were playing without our hearts and without our heads and we need to have the desire to win and we did it.''
While a heartbreaking loss for Wheeling Central, Coach Cross is still thrilled about where his team has come this season and where he wants to take it future seasons.
''This has been fantastic for us and something for us to build on,'' he said. ''Getting this far, we weren't sure if we would get this far at the beginning of the season. We worked hard and this was a big step toward getting this girls' soccer program to where all the rest of the programs are at Wheeling Central.
''I think next year there will be even more improvement.''