VINCENT - The Warren Lady Warriors may have not converted as many opportunities as they would have liked Thursday evening in their sectional tournament opener against Washington Court House, but they converted enough to come away with a 3-1 victory over the Lady Lions to advance to the next round of sectional tournament play.
The Southeastern Ohio Athletic League champion Warriors got goals from Raelyn Gardner, Raeli Barnes, and Melissa Dickerson as they got off 19 more shots on goal than Washington Court House.
"From the very start of the game we were having a lot of opportunities, just not finishing," said Lady Warrior head coach Ekrem Eksi. "Finally we made a few goals to give us a little more comfortable of a lead."
Gardner threatened to get the Warriors on the board early but her shot with just over 31 minutes to play in the first half was wide right.
Five minutes later Gardner was at it again and this time her goal attempt was good with an assist from Dickerson to give the Warriors the early 1-0 lead.
"She (Gardner) is just so fast and quick," said Eksi of his junior mid fielder. "Her technical ability is giving her a little trouble finishing goals, but she is a very dangerous player."
The Lady Lions answered quickly when senior defender Lauren Bishop drilled a kick from midfield that Ashley Lovett chased down and beat Warren keeper Janelle Barth for a goal and a 1-1 tie.
The Washington goal would prove to be the only blemish for Barth in the contest as the Warrior goal keeper saved 10 shots in the game.
Dickerson just missed a goal with 18 minutes to play in the half but six minutes later the Warriors would recapture the lead for good.
A pair of freshman accounted for the second Lady Warrior goal as Halee McPherson beautifully set up Barnes, whose shot from the left side cleared Lion keeper Christy Smith and found the far right corner of the net for a 2-1 Warren lead.
"That was a nice goal by Raeli (Barnes) too," said Eksi. "She came from the left side and was comfortable and put the ball in the far post."
Warren spent most of the game threatening the Lions as indicated by the 32 shots on goal taken by Warriors.
An outstanding performance by Smith saved several more Warrior goals as the Lions keeper came up with 18 keeper saves in the game.
Washington Court House threatened to tie things up when a long direct kick by Bishop was blocked nicely by a leaping Barth to preserve the slim one goal Warrior lead.
Warren added an insurance goal half way through the final half when Dickerson's penalty kick just eluded the diving Smith for a 3-1 Warrior lead.
The last opportunity to cut into the Warren lead for the Lions came on an attempt by Lovett with just over four minutes to play, but once again Barth was up to the challenge and the Warriors had a sectional tournament victory.
The win improved the number three seeded Warriors season record to 11-1-5, while number six Washington Court House's season comes to a close with an 11-7 record.
Eksi's Warriors will now set their sights on a to be determined opponent as Warren will travel to Jackson Tuesday to take on the winner of the Unioto versus Jackson sectional match up.
"The pressure is on in these games, if you lose you go home," said Eksi. "That pressure doesn't give you a comfort level, but we won and I'm very happy about that."
At Warren High School
Warren 3 Washington Court House 1
Washington Court House 1 0 - 1
Warren 2 1 - 3
Warren: Raelyn Gardner (Melissa Dickerson assist) 13th minute
WCH: Ashley Lovett 15th minute
Warren: Raeli Barnes (Halee McPherson assist) 24th minute
Warren: Dickerson 58th minute
Shots: Warren: 32, WCH: 13
Keeper Saves: WCH: (Christy Smith) 19, Warren: (Janelle Barth) 10
Penalties: Warren: 14, WCH: 7
Corner Kicks: Warren: 1, WCH: 1
Next Game: Warren vs TBD at Jackson, Tuesday at 7 p.m.