FRANKLIN – West Liberty-Salem defeated Milton-Union, 2-1, in a Division III girls soccer sectional final at Franklin High School on Tuesday. The match went into sudden victory overtime.
The Tigers struck first just 15 minutes into the game when Lily Yoder volleyed in a cross from Taylor Lauck.
Just a few minutes later, Milton-Union evened it up with a goal by Kristen Dickinson.
“I thought in the first half, they controlled it. They beat us to a lot of balls,” WL-S Coach Andy Cotrell said. “The girls bought into what we wanted to do in the second half.”
The score remained even at 1-1 throughout regulation, with the Tigers getting several chances that went wanting off the post or across the face of the goal.
“All you can do is laugh. When you get to that point and the ball doesn’t go in, that’s soccer,” Cotrell said. “It’s a credit to our team. A lot of people, when you have those missed shots, they get down on themselves. These guys didn’t.”
Near the end of regulation, a Tigers’ corner kick came away empty and the Bulldogs pushed ahead the other way. WL-S keeper Paige Shafer somehow got fingertips on a lethal strike from outside the box and punched it off the crossbar to save the day.
“I thought my defense did a fantastic job of making life difficult for them. And we knew they’d have their chances and that’s Paige’s job – to clean it up,” Cotrell said.
In sudden victory overtime, both teams got chances on goal in a tense, tight match. Finally, WL-S’s Gabby Hollar found a ball at her feet after Dierdre McGill played a ball that ricocheted off a defender.
“Dierdre McGill had great effort and it made it through. I needed to finish,” Hollar said. “We’ve all been working hard and we just needed to kick it into gear.”
Hollar wasted no time taking the gift and running up the middle of the field on goal, taking her time and finishing past the keeper to give the Tigers the victory.
“I wasn’t nervous when she had the breakaway. I knew she’d put it away,” Hollar said.
West Liberty-Salem will play in the district final on Saturday – likely at Lakota East High School at 3 p.m..
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.