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St. Clairsville fends off the Huskies, 4-3

IN ACTION — St. Clairsville’s Jocelyhnn Zucco moves the ball up field in front of Harrison Central’s Angi Ferri. - Lauren Nicole

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — St. Clairsville has never lost to Harrison Central in girls soccer action. That trend continued Thursday night despite the two squads having reversed campaigns this fall.

The Red Devils (3-5-1) built a 4-1 lead only to have to hang on for a 4-3 victory on the artificial surface inside Red Devil Stadium on senior night.

However, the Huskies (7-5) are headed to the OVAC Class 4A playoffs as the fourth seed, while St. Clairsville finishes fifth. The official standings and first-round playoff pairings will be announced today by OVAC soccer officials.

“I just told the girls that I’m happy for them that they got a win on their senior night,” St. Clairsville head coach Wes Stoner said. “It’s been an interesting season so far. I am happy for the girls.”

When St. Clairsville’s Makenna Booth lobbed the ball over Harrison Central goalkeeper Vanessa Dowdle’s fingertips from just outside the top of the box in the 51st minute, the Red Devils advantage grew to 4-1. Emaly Elerick recorded the assist.

But the Huskies didn’t roll over and play dead. They fought back and eventually gave themselves several chances down the stretch to tie the game, but came up a goal short.

Lexi Smith pulled Harrison Central to within 4-2 in the 57th minute and Angi Ferri’s penalty kick in the 65th made it 4-3.

The Huskies nearly completed the comeback, but a shot in the 75th minute clanked off the post and rolled harmlessly away.

Also, St. Clairsville goalkeeper Rileigh Wood came up big several times in the final few minutes. She finished with seven saves.

The Red Devils used a Delaney Florence net-finder in the 15th minute for a 1-0 lead, only to see the Huskies’ pull even when Ferri beat Wood to the ball and watched her shot roll and roll and roll into the empty net in the 22nd minute. Booth logged the assist on Florence’s tally.

A goal by St. Clairsville’s Lacy Tuttle gave the hosts a 2-1 edge as Isabella Yeager assisted in the 25th minute.

The Red Devils struck again 12 minutes later when Florence took a nifty feed from Megan Malin, after she stole the ball from a Harrison Central player, and nudged the ball into the cage as the margin went to 3-1.

Dowdle, who stood on her head at times, charted 13 saves.

“We didn’t do a very good job of settling the ball. If we would’ve done our normal give-and-gos and stuff, I think we could’ve done a little bit better,” Harrison Central head coach Mindy Madzia assessed. “The girls were hungry coming in. They wanted it (a win), but sometimes when it doesn’t go your way, you’ve got to get it settled and get back into the game.

“St. Clairsville is a really good team. They possess the ball really well,” Madzia added. “We made some adjustments at the half and I feel we played pretty tough in the second half. This is as close as we’ve ever played them.”

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