The Spartans struck early and held off Austintown Fitch, 2-0.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- Two goals in the first 43 minutes were enough to propel the Boardman High girls soccer team to its second straight Steel Valley Conference title.
Janeen Masternick and Maggie Mills netted goals as the Spartans (7-2) finished their SVC season at 4-0 with a 2-0 shutout of Austintown Fitch.
"This is awesome," said Masternick, whose eighth goal of the season was the game-winner. "Beating Mooney, that was sweet, but beating Fitch in my final SVC game was awesome.
"They were tougher than we expected -- they played a good game," Masternick said.
Losing title bid
Fitch (6-1-3) is 2-1 in SVC games.
"It hurts twice as much for our first loss of the season to also be a SVC [title] loss," Falcons coach Carlo Trafficante said.
About 6:30 into the game, Masternick took a long pass from Brittany Sirak and kicked the ball into the upper left corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead.
"It was just an instinct -- I just let it go," said Masternick of her 25-yard shot. "It was my left foot so [I knew] it was going to go straight. I was aiming for the corner."
Trafficante said, "In the first half, we made just one mistake and they capitalized on it. If you give [Masternick] the slightest bit of room, she's going to bury it."
Minutes later came Fitch's best scoring chance. As freshman Dina Harris stormed the Boardman goal, Spartans keeper Liz Agnew made a sliding stop to preserve the shutout. The junior goalkeeper finished with 10 saves, including eight in the second half.
Three minutes into the second half, the Spartans converted after a corner kick. Caitlin Hackett made a short pass to Sarah Grabert, who got the ball to Mills in front of the net. Before Falcons keeper Alison Chasko could get in position, Mills buried the ball into the net for the 2-0 lead.
From there, Boardman coach Fawzi Mujahed ordered his team into a defensive mode.
"At 2-0, I wasn't worried about them getting one goal because we could always go back to putting [offensive] pressure on their defense," said Mujahed, who is in his second year at Boardman.
In the second half, the Falcons outshot the Spartans 12-2 and led for the game, 19-14. Chasko finished with six saves, all in the first half.
"We dominated the second half, but today just wasn't our day," Trafficante said. "We had plenty of shots and plenty of opportunities -- we were just very unlucky today.
"In the second half, our kids showed a lot of heart," Trafficante said.
The SVC rivals could meet again in the tournament as both are Division I teams.