ZANESVILLE - For the second consecutive season, St. Clairsville had defeated Ridgewood in the first round of the Division III girls' sectional soccer tournament.
Tuesday night here under the lights at chill-filled West Muskingum High School, the No. 3 seed Lady Red Devils (10-6) used second-half goals from juniors Taryn Barr and Carlee Gillespie to eliminate fourth-seeded Generals (10-4-2) by a 2-1 count.
With the victory, head coach Scott Dutton's squad will make the return trip to Guernsey County Thursday night to meet West Muskingum, which outlasted Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans 1-0 in overtime in Tuesday's opener.
"We knew that Ridgewood would be tough. They always are," Dutton said. "We struggled early on, but having 12 days off will do that. We picked it up in the second half."
St. Clairsville dominated play from the outset as it fired 20 shots on Ridgewood goalkeeper Sam Moore in each half. However, the Generals' junior was up to the task each time.
After a scoreless first half, Barr gave the Red Devils their first lead when she rolled a rebound along the grass and through traffic that Moore never saw until it was too late.
Eberle Ferrell started the action with a corner kick from Moore's left. The ball pinballed around in the low box before Gillespie's shot was turned away by Moore. However, the ball went right to Barr, who notched her 20th goal of the season 3:30 into the second half.
"You can't give Taryn an opportunity like that because she will send it home," Dutton noted.
Barr broke in all alone 14 minutes later, but shot a little too early and Moore was able to make an easy save.
Gillespie made it 2-0 in the 27th minute. She controlled the ball in the low box and sent a rocket to the net that Moore initially stopped. However, the ball bounced loose and trickled across the goalline. It was Gillespie's team-leading 21st twine-tickler.
It appeared junior goalkeeper Brianna Sowers was going to record another shutout, but Anna Powell's perfectly placed shot late in the game allowed the Generals to keep from being blanked.
"That was a very good shot," Dutton allowed. "But other than that, we dominated the game. Our defense was tough. Our offense got the job done and Brianna was solid in goal."
St. Clairsville peppered Moore with 40 shots, but she recorded 29 saves. Sowers was only tested 13 times and charted 10 saves.
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