Patriots Fall In Hard-Nosed 5A Championship Match Against Morgantown | News, Sports, Jobs

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Playing without reigning state Player of the Year Gracie Brown, the No. 1-seeded Mohigans did just enough to get by No. 3 Wheeling Park with what they had.

“That was a battle,” Morgantown head coach Brianna Frontuto said. “We weren’t at full strength either, so I think it says a lot that the girls pushed through and came away with the win in that second half.”

The game remained scoreless 0-0 throughout the first half, but not for lack of scoring opportunities. Both teams came within razor-thin margins of scoring in the first 40, Park keeper Hailey Hastings and Morgantown keeper Camdyn Smith playing a heavy hand in the double zero’s on the scoreboard for the first half. Fearless play in the box and quick reactions on high-difficulty saves showed that either goalie was of championship game-caliber Saturday.

There were also a fair few misplays by either side as well which factored into the scoreless tie, Wheeling Park eeking a close-range shot just outside of goal in the 19th minute and Morgantown narrowly missing a header in the 26th minute.

“We created a lot of opportunities in the first half, and that’s potentially a different game if we put one of those opportunities away when we created plenty of chances in the first half,” Wheeling Park head coach Carrie Hanna said. “We continued to create them in the second half, we were just off offensively.”

Out of halftime, Morgantown began to build an edge in possession, and really started putting pressure on the Patriots.

“I think the girls kind of settled at halftime and knew that they had to play their game,” Frontuto said. “Toward the end of the first half we really found what worked, if we stretched them across the field there were more gaps to play to. I think they saw that and they were able to capitalize in the second half.”

Hastings continued to make plays in goal for Park, including a quick-twitch deflection on a uncontested close-range shot in the 49th minute, but the opportunities kept mounting for the Mohigans.

A Wheeling Park foul induced a free kick from around 20 yards away for Morgantown in the 56th minute, and Ariana Borneo lined up to take it.

Lofting a shot high, the ball was deflected by a leaping Hastings, but still powered through into the back of the net to give Morgantown a 1-0 lead.

The Mohigans stayed on the attack, Borneo taking a corner kick in the 68th minute. The junior once again took matters into her own hands, pin-pointing the shot over the defense, her own teammates and the keeper before bending into the back of the net. 2-0 Morgantown.

“Ariana Borneo is an amazing player,” Frontuto said. “She’s been practicing both of those shots all season, so to see her actually get some turnout for them is really exciting for me as a coach, and she’s really excited as well, she gave me a big hug because she finally got to hit those shots that she’d been practicing.”

“I can’t say enough about our defensive effort, they did a great job,” Hanna said. “And credit to [Morgantown], they put in two perfectly executed set plays on the free kick and bending that corner kick in. Borneo’s a great player.”

Wheeling Park changed their strategy in the last minutes, going for an all-out assault which panned out in the 78th minute, a score by Kaylee Davis coming after the Park senior narrowly beat the Morgantown keeper to a pass by Julia Dunaway.

“I think that could’ve gone a different way offensively, but defensively we did what we needed to do to give ourselves opportunities to finish,” Hanna said. “We just struggled to finish until we pushed two of our centerbacks up, Julia Dunaway and Kaylie Davidson, they’re the ones who connected for our goal late. Just kind of ran out of time there, I thought we had momentum but didn’t have the time to get another and equalize.”

The conference tourney championship was Morgantown’s sixth in program history. The Mohigans go back to the regular season grind on Oct. 2, home against Brooke. The Patriots play Linsly on Oct. 5.

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