Catholic, Sissonville girls battle in Region 4 final
RIPLEY -- Charleston Catholic and Sissonville must make the 36-mile trek up Interstate 77 North to decide the only regional involving Kanawha Valley girls teams.
It will certainly be worth the drive for the No. 1 Indians (20-2) and the No. 4 Fighting Irish (14-5-2), who will tangle at approximately 7:30 tonight in the Class AA-A Region 4 final at Ripley High School with the winner advancing to the state tournament.
States will take place Nov. 2-3 at the YMCA Soccer Complex in Beckley. (See Page 2B for regional pairings).
The trip will also be redemptive for both squads.
The Indians lost 2-1 to Grafton in last year's state championship game, the first time they had gotten that far since winning it all in 2002.
Sissonville has bounced back stronger than ever this year, winning 15 straight and hasn't lost since a 3-0 setback at Bridgeport on Sept. 1. During the winning streak, the Indians had 11 straight shutouts and 13 total while allowing just two goals.
"After a disappointing loss last year, we're very much eager to get back to states,'' said Sissonville coach Ali Sadeghian. "The girls have been working very hard and dedicated to the practices. They're determined.''
Catholic saw its streak of three straight state titles come to an end when it failed to make it out of its section last season. The Irish have rebounded with the addition of five freshmen to the starting lineup.
"Jenny Borman, Sarah Joseck and Anna Whelan they have really shown great leadership and helped these freshmen know what it's like to be a competitive team,'' said Catholic first-year coach Amy Mullen.
Indians senior Lydia Murray, who leads the Kanawha Valley with 35 goals, set the area's career goal scoring record and now has 132.
In addition, Sissonville freshmen Madison Jones and Karli Pinkerton have added 28 and 18 goals, respectively, while freshman keeper Brooke Reed and senior defender Shelby Swiney have spearheaded a defense that has surrendered just 11 goals in 22 games.
"They're beating teams 8-0 and 7-0,'' Mullen said of Sissonville. "Lydia Murray has the goal record and that's intimidating.
"Having a young team and not really realizing what we're coming to might be good for us. We've had success in our last few games. Things are clicking. I feel like we're ready to play. If we just calm down enough to be able to play our game, we should do pretty well.''
Catholic started the year winning its first five games, then lost four of its next seven before getting back on track with eight victories in its last nine, the lone loss to Class AAA No. 3 Winfield.
Freshman Caroline Dundervill's 18 goals pace the Irish, while freshman Payton Mullen (13 goals), freshman Peyton Keener (12) and senior Hannah George (11) are double-digit goal scorers.
"It'll be a good matchup,'' Sadeghian said. "Both teams are young and strong. It could go either way. This game is gong to come down to the strength and conditioning. We're a very shallow team compared to previous years. If we can hang in there, we'll have a chance.''
Catholic and Sissonville didn't meet during the regular season, but the teams are familiar with one another.
"Sissonville is our rival from the beginning with middle school,'' Mullen said. "A lot of those girls all know each other and play against each other.''
In other regional matchups today, No. 7 Fairmont Senior takes on No. 8 Wheeling Central in Region 1, No. 3 and defending state champion Grafton squares off with No. 2 Bridgeport in Region 2 and No. 6 PikeView plays No. 14 Pocahontas County in Region 3.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.