Blazers lose sectional heartbreaker to Morgan, WV falls
UNION TOWNSHIP — Over the course of the season, the Marquette girls soccer team has learned to play with very little bench support, due to a small roster size and nagging injuries.
During Tuesday’s Class A Wheeler Sectional contest against Morgan Township, the Blazers had no bench players against the Cherokees, but still held a 4-2 lead with seven minutes left in the game.
Unfortunately, Morgan broke through for two answered goals in a minute span to force overtime, and then went ahead in the first overtime period and held on for a 5-4 win over Marquette.
Senior co-captain Claire Salyer scored two goals to lead Marquette (4-10-1). Also scoring for the Blazers was sophomore Riley Lindsey and senior Nathaly Reynaga.
“All season in every game they have given it 110 percent from beginning to end,” Blazers coach Wil Cogdill said. “You can’t expect or ask any more out of them. They played hard right up to the very end. Taking shots on their goal and playing inside their 18.
“We just couldn’t get anything to drop for us at the end. In overtime, we had more shots on goal than them and had some great opportunities in front of the goal. All it would take was just one. We were ready to go into the shootout, though we were hoping to win it outright.”
Lindsey opened up the scoring for Marquette and a 1-0 lead with 25:22 left in the first half before Olivia White responded with two quick goals with 7:42 and 7:13 left in the half. Salyer’s score with 3:36 left evened the contest up 2-2 at half.
The Blazers reclaimed the lead with 34:54 remaining in the contest on Salyer’s second goal of the game. She was right on the cusp of a hat trick with 25:30 to go, but her shot deflected perfectly back off the front post.
Marquette extended the lead to 4-2 when Reynaga shot ahead of Salyer and her teammates in the midfield, and deposited a shot in for her first career goal.
“The funniest thing about Nathaly is that she’s come so close several times,” Cogdill said. “She’s been like a half step away from getting her first goal. Finally, she caught up with the ball and put it right out of the reach of the goalie.
“You could not have expected a better shot than that. She has speed, and she out-ran everyone.”
Reynaga said she knew she was up against the time, but still driven.
“I really didn’t think I would get one, but I was determined at halftime to get a goal in the second half,” she said. “I was very excited.”
Morgan Township, which received four goals from White, pulled within 4-3 on a goal from White with 6:28 left in regulation. The Cherokees quickly tied the game with 5:18 to go when Emma Hodges found the back of the net to force overtime.
In the first seven-minute overtime, Morgan broke through when White made her way past three defenders and scored the go-ahead goal with 1:51 left.
Despite not being able to tie and force the shootout, Cogdill had nothing but praise for his team and especially Salyer, who has been the heart and soul of the team all season long.
“Every game, even tonight, Claire was double teamed and sometimes triple teamed,” he said. “Someone always following her. She is amazing. What she has done for the team is nothing short of miraculous.
“Her attitude is awesome. She keeps the other girls up. As Claire goes, the team usually goes. Great inspiration. She’s a great captain, and she’s done everything right.”
Salyer had nothing but praise for her teammates
“I am so proud of the girls,” she said. “They all have such heart, and that’s what makes me so happy. They hustle as hard as they can. We played as hard as we could.”
In the second game, the host Bearcats reached the finals via an 11-1 win over Westville.
Wheeler scored with 34:10 and 32:33 to go before the break and was off and running to an eventual 8-1 half cushion. The Blackhawks received their score from Chloe Fortune with 10 minutes to play in the first half.