Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.
MINFORD — It’s been awhile.
If you rewinded time to Minford’s last win over Wheelersburg, this year’s seniors were just starting their fourth grade year.
Fast forward exactly 2,896 days later and the Falcons have — finally — snapped that streak.
Behind goals from Lexi Conkel and Haley Knore, Minford (7-0, 3-0 SOC) stayed perfect on Tuesday with a gritty 2-1 win over the Pirates — the program’s first since 2014.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Minford coach Shane Tieman said. “Hats off to ‘Burg. They always come to play, no matter who they’re playing. They’re always playing hard. Traditionally, the matches between them and us have been close. They’ve come out on top more often than not. Thankfully, we got them tonight. But it’s been a long time coming.”
Tuesday’s win followed a 7-6 win over Rock Hill last Thursday. In that contest, the Falcons trailed 5-0 at halftime before scoring seven times in the final 25 minutes.
That offensive onslaught continued against the Pirates. Minford sent 18 shots at Wheelersburg’s goal, 11 of which were on target.
“We are executing better,” Tieman said. “They understand the style of play we’ve been instilling in the past couple of years. It’s a possession-oriented style of play, but it’s still an attacking style. We have a little more diversity in our attacks. We’re not one-dimensional. [Wheelersburg] is stingy with goals. Luckily, we were very efficient tonight. We had 18 shots and quite a few on frame.”
After a scoreless first half, Conkel started the night’s scoring with 27:34 remaining in the game — coming off an assist from Mychal Cron. However, 54 seconds later, Wheelersburg (3-3, 3-1 SOC) found the equalizer with a goal from Bella Miller.
That tally remained until Knore found the back of the net at the 22:31 mark, tallying the 98th goal of her storied career, extending the school record she set in Thursday’s win over Rock Hill, and providing the eventual game-winner.
“I’ve never seen her standing with just one person on her,” Tieman said of Knore. “She’s always got three or four on her. She battles. She just battles. I tell her not to do it as much, but she’s like a post-up player in basketball. She’ll take anybody on. She just doesn’t back down.”
From that point on, Minford’s defense tightened. That charge was led by Cron and Maggie Risner, who helped control the midfield, win possession and keep the Pirates’ offense at bay.
“Lexi and Haley get a lot of the glory and they should. They just find ways to score,” Tieman said. “But then you’ve got Mychal and Maggie in the middle, and they’re just workhorses for us. It was a tight game. Now, it’s next up for us.”
Minford now looks ahead to a home date with Division I Lancaster on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Pirates will look to bounce back the same evening at Rock Hill.
“We kept their athletes in check as much as possible,” Tieman said. “You cannot lose them anywhere within forty yards of the goal. Luckily, we were able to close enough and quickly. But our philosophy is next up. The next game is always the biggest game. That’s how we’ve looked at it.”