BUCKHANNON, W.Va. – The Buckhannon-Upshur High School Lady Buccaneers picked up a hard-fought non-conference victory Saturday, beating Greenbrier East 2-1 in a game that was moved to the turf due after Friday’s rains left the grass field unplayable.
The Lady Bucs outshot Greenbrier East 16-3 and got goals by Leigh Ann Bennett and Madi Ware to bounce back from a tough 1-0 loss to Robert C. Byrd that had snapped an eight-game win streak.
“I was proud of how they came back after the hard-fought loss we had the other night,” B-U head coach Jackie Zuliani said after Saturday’s game. “We really looked like a team and supported each other the whole 80 minutes.”
Bennett gave Buckhannon an early lead in just the third minute, taking a throw-in from Cameron Zuliani and placing a shot over the keeper into the right corner.
That score stood until late in the half when Greenbrier East’s Maggie Bartenslager collected a bobbled shot and tapped it in to bring the score level at 1-1 heading into intermission.
The Lady Bucs controlled a brutal second half that saw multiple extended stoppages for injuries. Amidst the choppy play, B-U created several scoring opportunities, kissing the post a handful of times. But the only goal of the half was a strike by Madison Ware in the 66th minute. Zuliani again had the assist, playing a ball in the center where Ware won a footrace with a Spartan defender.
The Greenbrier East keeper charged off her line, but Ware deftly chipped the ball into the left netting for the decisive strike.
“Madi Ware had great movement and had several opportunities and was getting frustrated, but I looked at her and said, ‘Keep your head up and keep playing, you are going to get one!’” Zuliani said. “She soon did get a nice goal. She is so fast and moves very well; she just needs to relax when she is about to take her shot and look for placement. I was proud of her continuing to work and it paid off.”
“Cameron did well with her throws and passing and had both assists,” the coach added.
While Buckhannon held a huge advantage in shots, Greenbrier East actually had more corner kicks, taking five to B-U’s three. That’s in part due to the solid play of Buckhannon’s back line, which held the Spartans to the periphery and made good use of Audrey Gaudet’s blazing speed to neutralize any long balls.
Claire Coffman recorded two saves in goal for the Lady Bucs.
“The defense did well as always,” Zuliani said. “Claire had a nice save off the first shot, but should have used her hands instead of trying to clear it with her feet and they were able to score off her deflection. She has had a great freshman season thus far and continues to grow as a keeper. She is very coachable and sees the field and enjoy watching her play. We are very lucky to have her. She has a bright future ahead.”
The win improved the Lady Bucs to 11-3 as the regular season winds down. They are ranked fifth among AAA schools.
“I thought we played very well,” Zuliani said. “We knew [Greenbrier East] would be a good, physical team. We outplayed them, but were once again plagued by not being able to find the back of the net.”
The Lady Bucs were to have played at Philip Barbour on Tuesday, but that game was postponed due to weather. The are scheduled to play at Bridgeport and University this week before returning home to face Lewis County next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The regular season will conclude at Elkins next Thursday.
“We have a big week coming up and then we finish the regular season playing our neighboring rivals Lewis County and Elkins before sectional play,” Zuliani said.