RIPLEY – In the game of soccer, if a team can see most of the ball possession-wise and generate scoring chances, more often than not they will find themselves on the winning side of things. That was certainly the case in Tuesday night’s Region 4, Section 1 opener in Death Valley between head coach Chris Stout’s Ripley Vikings and the Parkersburg Big Reds.
The Vikings dominated possession for most of the game, pressing on the Big Reds’ back line and eventually breaking through for a 1-0 win.
“We just played our game,” Stout said, “Settling the ball down, keeping it on the ground, making nice, simple passes. We weren’t trying to get too complicated.”
After a scoreless first half in which the Vikings struggled to finish their scoring chances, they broke through early in the second half.
Freshman Sydni Cunningham got loose on a breakaway and slotted a shot past Parkersburg goalkeeper Sophie Thompson, giving the Vikings a 1-0 lead at the 33:31 mark of the second half.
From there, the Vikings continued to press on the Big Reds. Cunningham nearly made it 2-0 a few minutes later, but her shot clanged back off the post.
The Big Reds’ best chance came with 13 minutes left in the game, getting a free kick at the edge of the box. However, Viking keeper Taylor Kennedy made a lunging save on the curling kick, preserving the lead and allowing Ripley to hang on for the win.
“It feels fantastic,” assistant coach Alyssa Brozak said of the win, “The girls progress from the start of the season to now, we’re just so proud of them and want to see how far they can go.”
The win sends Ripley to tonight’s Region 4, Section 1 title match at Parkersburg South against the Patriots. The Patriots mashed the Vikings 5-0 in their only regular season meeting on August 25.
“We came out a lot flat against South in the regular season,” Stout said, “We reacted to them. We’re going to look to be proactive and establish our game.”
Kick-off in tonight’s Region 4, Section 1 title match is set for 6:00 p.m. at the Erickson All-Sports Facility in Parkersburg.