One step closer

ELKINS – The Elkins High School girls’ soccer team moved one step closer to a state tourney berth by defeating Lewis County, 2-1, Wednesday night in the Class AAA, Region II, Section 2 title game at the EHS field.

The Tigers mounted a rally in weather, described by EHS coach Scott Cutright, as “miserable, there couldn’t have been worse conditions.”

The game started out with several good opportunities for both squads, and play was fairly even throughout the first half.

However, the Minutemaids began to assert themselves in the latter part of the half by controlling the middle and winning most of the ball contests.

Lewis County’s Taylor Kennedy was able to position herself for several crosses from the left that put a lot of pressure on Elkins, but good defense, along with goalkeeper Charlie George, held the visitors at bay.

Finally though, one of Kennedy’s cross kicks found Savannah Chapman and she punched it past George with one minute left before intermission to put Lewis County up 1-nill.

In the second half, the Tigers shut down the threat from Kennedy for the most part but still felt a lot of pressure from the Minutemaids.

However, at the 52nd minute, the Tigers’ Issabella Nieves took control of the ball at midfield and got past the Lewis County defense. With Minutemaid goalkeeper Caitlin Smith racing out to meet her, Nieves deftly redirected the ball and scored into the wide open net.

It was nearly seven minutes later before the Tigers had another valid scoring threat.

They made it count when Nieves made a nice right-to-left pass to Hailea Harper and she beat Smith for the go-ahead score. It was her fourth goal in sectional play.

Lewis County continued to press and Elkins found it difficult to clear the ball out of trouble as George had to make several saves.

The defense ultimately held, though, and the hosts started to assert some pressure of their own until time ran out.

“It’s great to win the section, that was our goal at the beginning of the season,” Cutright said. “We started out with opportunities to score and it was a letdown when we let them score with a minute to go before the half.

“But the girls have been resilient all year long and they just keep finding a way to win.”

Elkins (14-3-3) will face the section 1 victor at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Musselman High School. The winner advances to the state tourney, which begins Nov. 8 in Beckley.