VINCENT - Warren head coach Ekrem Eksi knew full well his second-seeded Warren Lady Warriors would be in for a real battle in Thursday night's sectional championship game against the seventh-seeded Chillicothe Lady Cavaliers.
Back in late September in Chillicothe, the Lady Warriors came away with a hard fought 2-1 victory over the Lady Cavs in a game that wasn't decided until the final two minutes of the game.
Thursday night the Lady Cavs got their revenge as they upset Warren 4-2 to advance to the next round of the tourney and bring an premature end to outstanding season by the Lady Warriors.
MIKE MORRISON The Marietta Times
Warren’s Raelyn Gardner collides with Chillicothe keeper Connor Watkins (0) during sectional girls’ soccer action in Vincent Thursday. Warren lost 4-2.
"We've had some struggles throughout the season and we are percervering and overcoming that adversity," said Chillicothe head coach Zach Breth. "We are pretty excited right now. I'm very proud of the way we played tonight."
The Lady Cavs got on the board first when senior Samantha Watkins drilled a corner kick from the left side that managed to elude Warren keeper Janelle Barth for a 1-0 lead just 11 minutes into the match.
The Warriors narrowly missed on an opportunity to tie the game when sophomore sensation Raeli Barnes just missed on a direct kick.
Chillicothe 4 Warren 2
Chillicothe (9-8) 2 2- 4
Warren (13-3-1) 1 1 - 2
C: Samantha Watkins goal 11th minute
C: Payten Davis goal (Lexi Brown assist) 23rd minute
W: Raeli Barnes (Laura Eksi assist) 35th minute
C: Lexi Brown goal 42nd minute
W: Barnes goal 63rd minute
C: Davis goal 79th minute
Shots On Goal: C:13, W:11
Keeper Saves: C:6 (Connor Watkins), W:6 (Janelle Barth)
Penalties:C: 14, W:7
Corner Kicks: C:4,W:4.
Chillicothe was at it again in the 23rd minute when freshman Payten Davis cleared the Lady Warrior defense and squeezed a kick between Barth and the left goal post for a 2-0 lead.
The Warriors had a couple of more opportunities to score minutes later but a left-footed attempt by Barnes was just wide, and a nice pass from Hayley McPherson to Raelyn Gardner came up short when Gardner appeared to lose her footing on the muddy playing pitch.
In desperate need of a goal late in the half to get some momentum back on their side, the Lady Warriors got just that with under five minutes to play when Barnes connected on her 28th goal of the season with an assist from Laura Eski.
"We tried to comeback late in the first half," said Eski. "That was a huge goal right there to slow them down a little bit."
Any hopes of that momentum carrying over into the game's final 40 minutes were quickly dashed when Lexi Brown, yet another Cavalier freshman, drove the right side and found the back of the net for a 3-1 Chillicothe advantage just two minutes into the final half.
The intensity level seemed to pick up quite a bit for the Lady Warriors after the third Chilli goal as Barnes and Katie Rauch were each rejected twice by Lady Cavalier keeper Connor Watkins in a span of two minutes.
With 17:20 to play, Warren got the break it was looking for when Barnes drilled a kick from beyond the box that appeared to deflect off of a Lady Cav defender just enough to cross up Watkins and roll into the net to make it a one goal contest once again.
Unfortunately for the Warriors that would turn out to be their final goal of the 2013 season as Watkins was flawless from that point on.
Gardner broke away with nine minutes to go and appeared to be on her way to a potential tying goal but Watkins managed to capture the ball just before the Warrior senior was able to get the shot off.
"Connor (Watkins) has been very solid for us," said Breth, whose team defeated Athens 5-0 Monday night to earn the right to play the Warriors. "She has seen a lot of pressure this year with the tough schedule we play and she handles herself very well under pressure."
With time running out Davis put an exclamation point on the Lady Cav victory when she scored her second goal of the game just as the buzzer sounded.
Eksi, though disappointed with the loss, felt his girls gave it their best effort.
"Sometimes you can do everything right and give your best effort and it just doesn't go your way," said Eksi. "This was just one of those games where we started out really bad and just could never come all the way back."
The Warrior season came to a close with a record of 13-3-1, while the Lady Cavs improved to 9-8 and moved onto a district semifinal game against Fairfield Union Tuesday night in Jackson.