The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

October 22, 2013

Woodrow girls move into sectional final

Woodrow Wilson’s first goal against Greenbrier East was a bit of a surprise.

Its second went exactly as planned.

Kaylee Hilliard scored on a long, direct kick, and Elizabeth Gramling took a through pass and pounded it home to give the Flying Eagles a 2-1 victory over Greenbrier East Tuesday night at the YMCA’s Paul Cline Stadium.

Woodrow advances to the Class AAA Region 3, Section 2 final against Princeton, which defeated Shady Spring 12-2 Tuesday in the other semifinal. The game will be played at 7 p.m. Thursday at Princeton’s Everett Bailey Field.

Gramling’s goal decided what had been a very evenly played  game. The Flying Eagles took seven shots on goal to six for the Spartans.

Earlier in the season, the teams had played to a 2-2 draw in Fairlea.

“Every time we play East it’s a good game,” coach Paulette Umberger said. “It could have gone either way tonight. They’re a well-coached team.”

The game started like it would be a high-scoring affair. First East controlled the ball, taking three shots on goal in the first five minutes. Keeper Emily Lane was there for the stop each time.

Then Woodrow took the fight back to the Spartans, taking two solid shots of its own. Both were corralled by McKenna Blankenship.

At that point, the game became a chess match, with East making touch passes while Woodrow went for the quick home runs on through balls.

With four minutes remaining before halftime, Hilliard commanded a Rebekah Cook pass and fired at the goal from 30 yards out. Blankenship leaped to deflect the ball, and it looked on its way to clearing her and the top of the crossbar by several feet.

The ball, however, had other ideas. It looped over Blankenship, then dropped down for the first goal of the contest.

It took a moment for the teams and fans to realize the shot was good.

“Dave Harrah (Woodrow assistant boys soccer coach) said the only person who knew it had gone in was Kaylee,” Umberger said. “It was a gorgeous shot, but I thought it had gone over.

“She was putting it just in front of the goal so someone else would be there to put it in. That happens, sometimes. We’ll take it. We really needed it.”

East answered the call four minutes into the second half. Erin Johnson lofted a corner kick six feet in front of the goal. Several players touched it, but Claire Soucier took control and buried the ball past Lane.

Woodrow quickly responded, as Cook found Gramling with a perfect pass through the Spartans’ midfield. Blankenship could do little as Gramling fired past her for the winning goal.

“Woodrow had a girl with some speed in the center, and they got a through ball to her,” East coach Sean Acord said. “I told the girls at halftime that’s what Woodrow would do. They got a good opportunity and beat us down the middle.”

East concludes its season at 14-5-2.

“This is a young team. We only lose five seniors,” Acord said. “We started three freshmen, and we have a lot of talent in the sophomore class. We’ll be back next year.”

Woodrow will head into Thursday’s final with a 10-6-4 record.

“The games we’ve lost were against some of the top people in the state,” Umberger said. “I’m looking forward to playing Princeton. Michelle Thorn does a great job with them. They have people back now who were injured when we played them last time (a 3-1 Woodrow victory on Oct. 1).

“We’ll have to play hard and win every ball. We’re not a fancy team. We work hard, we run a lot, and we try to run the last 20 minutes of the game every time. I felt we were still running tonight.”

—E-mail: dstillwell

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