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No. 2 Bridgeport girls triumph over Parkersburg High, 1-0

Parkersburg’s Payton Harvey (right) starts to kick past Bridgeport’s Charli Garfton (left) during the Indians’ 1-0 won over the Big Reds on Saturday. Grafton scored the only goal. Photo by Josh Hughes

PARKERSBURG — Defense seized the day on a hot Saturday afternoon, as the No. 2 Bridgeport Indians left Stadium Field with a 1-0 victory over the Parkersburg Big Reds.

It was a back and forth showcase from the goalkeepers, as PHS’s Isabel Lynch stood opposite BHS’s MacKenzie Randolph. Both GK’s faced pressure from each side’s wings. However, it was Bridgeport defender Charli Grafton who scored the lone goal of the contest.

It was the 25th minute when Lynch deflected a shot away on the left side, which caused a host of players to come together around the box. From there, Grafton emerged from the group with possession, as she buried a shot to the right corner to give the Indians the winning tally. Even though that was all on the scoreboard, there was still plenty of time for more action.

Earlier in the half, PHS’s Madison Spears had shots in the 12th and 23rd minutes barely miss the mark.

The first one was saved by a diving Randolph, and the next one was missed wide left. Lynch faced an eager Indian offense, as she recorded 11 saves on the day to Randolph’s 10.

The Big Reds’ best chance to tie came with just a few minutes gone by in the second half. Jade Poling and Kendal Domenick found themselves on a fastbreak with a couple defenders trailing. Domenick passed to Poling, who fired a goal offside. That score was wiped away, but PHS had more chances. In the 49th minute, Domenick was alone again. Randolph denied her with a diving save, keeping the score 1-0.

These teams traded blows for the rest of the match, but it all led up to a pair of penalty kicks in the 74th minute. PHS’s Payton Harvey tried to lift her PK attempt over the head of Randolph, but the senior GK got her hands up. However, Randolph left the box during the attempt, and Harvey had a second chance. This time, Harvey attempted the same kind of shot, and Randolph got her hands up to stop it once more.

That seeled the deal, as Bridgeport (9-0) head coach Sam McKinney spoke about the dueling goalkeepers and what a win like this means to his players.

“Our kids dug down deep, and got the job done. They were tested,” he said. “This is our first real test of the year, and they rose up. (Randolph) is a senior leader and a captain. You just can’t say enough about her. She came up big and saved our butts. It’s still good when you can come to Parkersburg (5-3-1) and dig out a win. They’re always a good team, and they’re always going to play us tough. (Lynch) is the best keeper I’ve seen all year, by a longshot. We worked on finishing for two hours the other day, and we still missed a ton of shots, but that kid save a ton of shots.”

PHS head coach Brad Morris was proud of how his team took Bridgeport to the brink, but he also reflected on missed opportunities throughout the day.

“I think all-around, we played a great game. Bridgeport came out to play with a lot of energy early. We didn’t really start the match until midway through the first half,” he said. “I think it just comes down to us not being able to bury our chances. There were a few breakaways we got right to the goalie. Then, we couldn’t bury a penalty kick and left that stuff on the table. We gave that game away. Our defensive effort is always top notch. I think we have a couple of the best defenders in the state, so they always come out to play. If we start to click in the middle and bury our chances, this comes out with a different result.”

PHS gears up for a Tuesday night showdown against Hurricane, but Cabell County’s uncertainty over the coronavirus could cancel that match. If it is canceled, the Big Reds next travel on Thursday night to Parkersburg South in an attempt to knock off the No. 1-ranked Patriots. Bridgeport has a Tuesday night meeting at Philip Barbour on the horizon.

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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