Redskins, Irish duel to 2-2 standoff
Just like two rams butting heads, Charleston Catholic and Hurricane refused to give an inch Tuesday evening.
That's the mindset that teams such as the Class AA-A No. 1 Fighting Irish and the AAA No. 3 Redskins start developing as the regular season winds down with the win-or-go-home postseason appears on the horizon.
Junior Audrey Barber scored her second goal with 8:08 left in the game as the Redskins rallied a 2-2 tie with Catholic. A crowd of about 200 attended at Andrew Jordon Field at Trace Fork.
"This caliber is what you want to play every week,'' said Catholic coach Amy Mullen, who guided the Irish to the AA-A state tournament semifinals last year. "We were glad to see it. We know now what it takes to get to the state championship and the state tournament and the level we have to play.''
Catholic was pushed to the limit nearly every minute Tuesday and held up well.
Sophomore Caroline Dundervill tallied a nifty goal off an assist from sophomore Payton Mullen with 10:55 to go to give the Irish a 2-1 advantage.
Mullen sent a pass to the right post where Dundervill streaked in and chipped across the goal just out of the reach of Hurricane keeper Hannah Thompson, who finished with seven saves.
Barber came right back with a neat unassisted score to knot the game at 2-all. Barber dribbled in from the right post and when Catholic senior keeper Annie Crockett came out, Barber poked the ball to the right then put it in the net. Crockett turned in seven stops.
"They did play better the last 10 minutes,'' said Hurricane coach Shelly Young of her team's effort. "It's when they calm down and play possession instead of kicking and chasing that they play a better game.''
Mullen netted a goal off an assist from Dundervill in the 22nd minute to put Catholic in front 1-0. Mullen shot from 25 yards out at a tough angle on the left, but the ball squeezed in under the bar and over Thompson.
Barber tied it at 1-all in the 34th minute off an assist from junior Abby Watson, who dribbled into the penalty-box area then tapped the ball through an Irish defender to Barber in front of the goal.
The matchup featured three of the top-five goal scorers in the Kanawha Valley with Dundervill, who led the way entering play this week with 36, Watson (24) and Barber (23).
Catholic (16-1-2) hasn't won in a week as it gears up for next week's sectionals with a string of quality opponents over its last seven games. The Irish suffered their first loss last week - a 2-1 setback to AAA No. 4 George Washington - then tied AA-A No. 3 Fairmont Senior 3-3.
"We played 80 minutes [against Hurricane],'' Amy Mullen said. "If we can continue that and grow and stop the transition goals then I think we should be OK.''
The Redskins (14-1-2) last won a week ago then tied AA-A No. 2 Sissonville (3-3) and AAA and defending state champion Winfield (1-1) in the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship game. That went to overtime so the conference could crown a champion and Hurricane lost in a penalty-kick shootout.
"It's good to have some competition at the end of the year,'' said Young, whose squad will possibly face Winfield for a third time in the sectional title game. "We play in a tough section. There's not a walkover team. It gives us a chance to get ready for that.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.