STEUBENVILLE - This was a typical boys soccer contest between Steubenville Big Red and host Steubenville Cathlolic Central on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
"In some ways, very typical - very close and very hard-fought, down to the wire and the game in the balance the entire game," said Crusaders head coach Steve Kopcha. "Very intense."
Big Red head coach Greg Bowers agreed.
Big Red goalie John-Paul Duff and Central’s Leo Herrmann slap hands after a collision during Saturday’s game at the Tony Recinella Soccer Field. It ended scoreless.
Catholic Central goalie John Bolster knocks away a corner kick.
"It was intense out there and that's what you get when we play each other," he said. "The intensity displayed by both teams was that of a playoff game. That's what makes this fun. It's a great warm-up for the OVAC tournament next week."
Not typical was the final.
"Somebody usually scores in these games," said Kopcha.
"We've had trouble scoring all year," said Bowers. "We've had chances that we didn't finish, just like today. To keep a great goal scorer like Leo (Central senior Leo Herrmann) is a great job by our defense and John-Paul (goalie John-Paul Duff).
"We preached to our defense to keep them (Herrmann and John-Paul McNamara)) in front of us. We talked about communicating and knowing where they were at all times and they did an excellent job.
"He (Duff) was called upon to make some good saves today and we expect him to make those saves. We told the guys, 'keep Leo in front, don't let him get by and if he shoots it's up to John-Paul' and John-Paul was up to the challenge today."
Duff finished with eight saves and Crusaders keeper John Bolster with seven saves.
Both coaches communicated with their teams about the playing conditions.
"We realize things we can't control - the weather, the field, what the referees call," said Kopcha. "We don't worry about that. Both teams have to play in the same elements. It's a fair playing field.
"We talk to them about the ball skipping and making sure keep balance when playing defesne and looking for rebounds in case the goalkeeper bobbles one."
"We preached in warm-ups about getting our whole body in front of the ball and not playing it off our hips and, for the most part, we did that really well today," Bowers remarked.
Both are in action Monday in the OVAC Cup at Brooke High School.
Central, the No. 1 seed, gets East Liverpool at 5 p.m.
"We have not played them this year," said Kopcha, whose squad is 10-0-1. "We played them the past couple of years. Anybody that has made the Cup is a quality team and we expect to see a very good effort from them."
Big Red (7-2-1) is the No. 4 seed and gets No. 5 Linsly.
"We have a challenge with Linsly," Bowers said. "They obviously have a good squad."