STEUBENVILLE - Just like the winds that blew through Harding Stadium, Beaver Local's championship dreams went cold on Saturday.
In a game with physical play and questionable calls, Minerva overpowered the Beavers with a 3-2 victory, clinching its second straight Division II district championship.
Minerva coach David Gotschall was proud of the Lions' progress after losing 11 seniors from last year championship team.
"We thought this year would be a rebuilding year for us," Gotschall said. "The kids kept up with it all along, they got better as the season went on, and just on their perserverence and wanting to play better, they played better as a team than any of the other 11 teams I think I've been involved with."
After giving up a goal early, the Lions (14-5) evened the score with a Philip Blackburn goal. Later in the first half, Tyler Stewart added two goals to the scoreboard to make it a 3-1 game at halftime. A possible second-half goal went away from the Lions when a Stewart shot hit the post.
Stewart was pleased with the victory though.
"We came out a little flat-footed," Stewart said. "As the game went on, we got back into our groove and just got shots on goal."
Blackburn also had an assist for the Lions while goalkeeper Justin Schotts had 10 saves.
The Beavers (13-4-2) took control early due in part to a penalty kick from DeShawn Parker, but soon found themselves outmatched by the Lions. A second goal from Parker came late in the second half and kept the Beavers in the game, but the power and ball control of the Lions was just too much to overcome.
Parker had mixed emotions as the season came to a close for the Beavers.
"If we would've played just a little harder, we would have gotten it," Parker said. "We did a lot better than I thought we would, and I am just proud of my team and thank our families and supporters that have come out to support us. It was great, but I just didn't want it to end."
Colin Brightwell had one assist for the Beavers, while Devon Oliver had seven saves on goal.
Beavers coach Mike Hillard also felt disappointment in the loss.
"I hate to see it end for the seniors," Hillard said. "We battled until the end, but that goal just wasn't found."
Many questionable calls were made throughout the game against both sides, but the Beavers dealt with the most including three yellow cards. Senior Dylan Raling and junior Jon Tomlinson were each yellow-carded for rough play.
Beavers assistant coach Kevin Sevey, however, wasn't so lucky. After receiving a yellow card from the referee for arguing calls, he received a red card after arguing again.
Hillard was puzzled in regards to Sevey's ejection.
"I didn't hear him say a word after he got his first yellow card," Hillard said. "I don't know what happened. He was standing right behind me, and I didn't hear a word coming out of his mouth. I didn't think he said anything."
Gotschall also felt there were flaws with some of the calls, not just from the game but also during the tournament.
"When you go to playoffs, it ought to be a three-man system," Gotschall said. "We've run into some bad refereeing all along the playoffs, and a lot of that had to do with having a two-man system."
Next for the Lions is undefeated Coschocton in the the Division II regional semifinals at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at River View High School in Warsaw.
"Coshocton is a very tough team," Gotschall said. "We have to play defense."
-This is the second district championship for Minerva in the 23 years the soccer program has existed.
-Minerva's next opponent, Coshocton, has a record of 17-0-2 and has given up only 13 goals all season. Coshocton is ranked ninth in state Div. II coaches' poll.