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Goalkeeper Bird has Redskins flying high

September 4, 2018

HURRICANE, W.Va. - Olivia Bird admits to nerves when facing premier soccer players, but the Hurricane High School goalkeeper has learned to play through them and that’s showing in the Redskins’ results.

Bird and her teammates have shut out five of their seven opponents this season in going 6-0-1. South Charleston scored a late goal in a 7-1 Hurricane victory and Russell played the Redskins to a 2-2 tie. Greenbrier East, Huntington High, Huntington St. Joe, Parkersburg and St. Albans failed to find the net.

Hurricane coach Shelly Young said she is proud of the way her sophomore keeper has played, particularly Saturday in a 2-0 triumph over Huntington St. Joe.

“Olivia really played a good game,” Young said. “She’s a sophomore and she’s developing really well.”

Bird begrudgingly accepts accolades, preferring to credit her teammates. A nine-year soccer veteran and frequent summer travel team participant, Bird has played in goal almost exclusively. Bird said she likes it there, despite the high-pressure situations.

“I like it when we win and I get to feel like a big part of winning,” Bird said. “Sometimes, though, it can be bad if we lose.”

Hurricane doesn’t lose often. Last season the Redskins defeated Cabell Midland 2-0 and tied 1-1 in the regular season before losing to the Knights 1-0 in the sectional tournament championship game. Cabell Midland went on to win the Class AAA state title.

“That was really disappointing,” Bird said. “We beat them, then lost to them in the game that mattered. I hope that gives us that much more fire this season.”

Bird and her teammates receive another shot at the Knights at 6 p.m. Thursday at Cabell Midland. The Knights feature state player of the year Emilie Charles, who scored a state single-season record 49 goals last year. One of those scores came in a 1-0 victory over University in the state championship game.

“Playing against players such as Emilie can be intimidating,” Bird said, also mentioning Huntington St. Joe standouts McKenzie Moran and Abi Hugh as players who cause pre-game butterflies in her stomach. “She’s a great player and Cabell Midland has a good team. We have to go out and play our game.”

Hurricane’s success, Bird said, is a team effort.

“We have really good players,” said Bird, who added that soccer, school and worship at New Life Church in Huntington take up most of her time. “It’s not just me, but the girls playing defense in front of me. They’re really good and so is our offense.”

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