GRAFTON—On August 27, the Grafton Lady Bearcats opened their season with a very competitive match at East-West Stadium in Fairmont against the Fairmont Senior Polar Bears.
GHS dominated play with strong defending and an excellent possession game that created 17 shots with 12 shots on goal for a 1-0 Grafton win. Strong defending limited Fairmont Senior to six shots overall with three shots on goal.
Senior GK Jocelyn Countryman had three saves and was credited with the shutout.
“We kept pressing with multiple attacks and their keeper was busy,” said Grafton head coach Lorraine Isner. “Four saves in the first half and eight saves in the second half. Freshman Addie Tucker (center forward) used her speed, possessed the ball into the box, and beat the defender to the near post and delivered a well-place shot past the keeper.”
On August 29, the Lady Bearcats hosted Wheeling Park at McKinney Field. In a very competitive match, Grafton came up short in a 3-0 loss to the AAA powerhouse.
“Wheeling Park is an excellent team,” Isner stated. “They are most likely the best and most complete team with their athleticism, size, speed, skill, and knowledge of the game. They are deep in every position. This was a great opportunity to assess ourselves. We played well and I am very pleased with where we are this early in the season.”
Wheeling Park had 20 shots overall and 15 shots on goal. Wheeling Park’s three goals were all scored by forward Faith Mealy, who created two of her own shots.
GHS had six shots overall with four shots on goal. One of the shots was a well-placed corner kick by junior Kadie Dunham, who bent her serve inside the back post. Unfortunately, the goal was not credited.
“Their possession of the ball and strength on the ball dominated the play,” said Isner. “We need to be quicker to defend and take time and space away.”
Jocelyn Countryman had 12 saves for the Lady Bearcats and remained composed with the multiple attacks and shots on goal.
Following the loss to Wheeling Park, Grafton headed to Huntington to challenge St. Joseph’s at the YMCA Kennedy Center.
In one of the strangest games of Isner’s long-time coaching career, the Lady Bearcats saw a 2-1 halftime lead turn into a 3-2 defeat, but not before some questionable and unusual circumstances.
“This was the most frustrating and confusing game I have ever coached,” said Isner. “Confusion and dangerous playing conditions were created by the officials as it took 136 minutes to play 80 minutes of soccer. There were random stoppages that disrupted the flow of the game. We handled the confusion and kept our composure, but it was physically and mentally exhausting. My greatest concern was the non-call for charging on our GK Jocelyn Countryman that resulted in an injury. It was a reckless and dangerous foul and warranted a red card.”
Grafton was credited with 21 shots overall and 13 shots on goal. Two goals were credited and one was not after the officials’ confusion about an offsides infraction.
GHS goals were scored by senior Madison Summers (assisted by junior Kadie Dunham) and sophomore Payden Morris (assisted by senior Brooke Runner). GK Jocelyn Countryman was credited with three saves and GK Emilie Coole had three saves as well
St. Joseph’s was credited with 13 shots overall and six shots on goal that resulted in three goals with one assist. Their GK was credited with 11 saves.