WHEELERSBURG — The Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs moved to within one win of a trip to the state tournament with a convincing 5-0 victory Tuesday over Wheelersburg in Division III girls soccer regional semifinal matchup.
Lynchburg-Clay and Wheelersburg were the two top-seeded teams in the tournament.
The Lady Mustangs also gained a measure of revenge for fellow Southern Hills Athletic Conference member Eastern Brown. Wheelersburg came from behind to behind to beat Eastern Brown in overtime in the district championship game, 4-3.
“We knew Lynchburg was good coming in. There are only good teams left,and we were one of them. It’s just that our good team didn’t fare well against their good team tonight,” said Wheelersburg coach Todd Jarvis. “They played really well,they are amazingly aggressive and have good skill with the ball.
Wheelersburg finished the season 15-4-1.
On Tuesday, Lynchburg-Clay outshot the Lady Pirates 20-6, and collected their 11th shutout of the season, three of which have been recorded in the Lady Mustangs’ four tournament games.
The Lady Pirates tried to sustain the same physical energy — and keep the same emotional level — as they did in the final four minutes of regulation, and first four minutes of overtime, against Eastern Brown.
Unfortunately for them, the skilled, speedy, technically-sound and defensively strong Lady Mustangs had none of it — and posted a pair of first-half goals followed by three more markers in the second, the final of which was a McKenna Rhoades unassisted make with a minute and 13 seconds to go.
Karlie Tipton tallied a hat trick for the Lady Mustangs and Jade Massey muscled a pair of assists.
The only goal given up by the Mustangs was against North Adams in the district final, as the Lady Pirates had scored 74 goals this season —and had last been shut out exactly three years ago.
That previous shutout came against the Mustangs in 2017 —a 1-0 Lynchburg-Clay clipping in the same regional semifinal round.
Tuesday’s triumph by the Mustangs was actually their third conquering of the Pirates in the “Sweet Sixteen”, as they also defeated Wheelersburg at the same juncture four years back.
Wheelersburg won one district championship match between the two — 2-1 in 2018.
Like the Lady Pirates, the Lady Mustangs are also a young yet experienced squad, and — in putting the Pirates down 2-0 at halftime — forced Wheelersburg to shift gears and become more offensive-oriented.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work well —and Lynchburg-Clay collected three second-half goals over the final 20 minutes and 26 seconds.
“We battled, and we tried to gamble a little bit in the second half, which left our defense vulnerable. We were not going to completely settle in, and so we pushed forward and gave them our best shot. It just wasn’t good enough tonight,” said Jarvis. “Hats off to Lynchburg-Clay, for they have set the standard in the Southeast District Division III for a while. We don’t hang our heads in a loss to them.”
The Mustangs got the only goal they needed for the win only eight minutes in — when Paige Flowers found Tipton on the left side, and she beat Brynley Preston at the left post for the 1-0 lead.
With 15:41 remaining, L-C made it 2-0 when Massey crossed one from the right corner to the left post — and senior Sierra Benney banged one just inside the mid-left 90.
Tipton tallied the next two Mustang markers — only seven minutes apart in the second half — when she first caught a Massey through-ball and dribbled between Pirate defenders, before finally blasting a ricochet shot in at point blank range.
That made it 4-0 with 13-and-a-half minutes remaining.
Lynchburg-Clay’s final goal was scored unassisted by Mckenna Roades with 1:13 left in the game.
At the other end, L-C goalkeeper Philemina Toca stopped all six Lady Pirate shots.
The Lady Mustangs, now 16-4-0, host Columbus Academy on Saturday at noon for Region 11 championship. Columbus Academy defeated Hiland in a penalty-kicks shootout after scoreless tie thru regulation and two 15-minutes sudden-death overtimes.
Information for this story was provided by Paul Boggs of the Portsmouth Daily Times.