POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — It’s not a game of finesse … and the Lady Knights proved to be tough enough for the challenge.
The Point Pleasant girls soccer team led wire-to-wire in a spirited battle to the end Wednesday night during a 2-1 victory over visiting Lincoln County in a non-conference friendly at Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field in Mason County.
The host Lady Knights (5-9-1) produced the first six shots of regulation and held the Lady Panthers (11-4-2) without a shot attempt for almost 25 minutes in the first half. PPHS owned an 8-4 edge in shots by the intermission while clinging to a comfortable 2-0 advantage.
LCHS, however, continued to battle against a very stubborn Point Pleasant defense — and then caught a break with less than 10 minutes left in the contest.
Masena Blankenship fired a free kick at the PPHS goal and hit the side post, which led to a rebound hanging around in front of the net. Annie Whitten charged in and booted the free ball into the back of the goal, cutting the deficit in half at 2-1 with 7:34 remaining in regulation.
Point Pleasant — which outshot the Lady Panthers by an 18-8 overall margin — held the guests to only one more shot attempt the rest of the way as the Red and White held on for the one-goal triumph.
The Lady Knights accumulated three quality shots in the opening eight minutes of play, but the first breakthrough on the scoreboard didn’t come until the fifth shot attempt of the night.
Point Pleasant sophomore Teagan Hay ended up in the right place at the right time in the 14th minute as a free ball in a pile of defenders ended up on her foot and then in the back of the right corner of the net — giving PPHS an early 1-0 edge.
Senior Chelsea Black gave Point a two-goal lead in the 27th minute after dribbling between defenders and unleashing a point-blank shot from inside 10 yards that found nothing but the back of the net.
Coincidentally, both teams scored their final goals of the night on their seventh shot attempts. LCHS also mustered its first shot attempt of the game with 15:20 remaining in the first half.
The Lady Knights were also able to avenge a 2-0 setback at LCHS back on August 29.
Following the victory, PPHS coach Chris Errett was about as pleased with his troops as he’s been all year. As he noted, his kids wanted it more — from start to finish.
“That’s probably our best 80 minutes of soccer this season,” Errett said. “We’ve been getting better with each game and we kind of felt like we let one get away against this team earlier in the season, so we came in with a little more focus and confidence tonight.
“We came in kind of wanting to make a statement of sorts, and the girls did a really good job of that. Hat’s off to them for their efforts tonight.”
Point Pleasant finished the game with a 12-7 advantage in shots on goal and got six saves from keeper Monica Cook.
The Lady Panthers claimed a 3-1 edge in corner kicks and received 10 saves from keeper Malie Curry.
Things turned a little heated in the final 10 minutes of regulation as a sideline official issued a warning to the Point Pleasant bleacher crowd for verbal usage.
With just over two minutes remaining, both teams had a player receive a yellow card following a rough blindside hit by a Lincoln County player on a PPHS player along the sideline. A Point Pleasant fan was also thrown out of the stadium for disputing the yellow card call after the bleacher warning.
Point Pleasant traveled to Poca on Thursday night and returns to play Saturday when it hosts Spring Valley in a non-conference match at 11 a.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.