BRIDGEPORT -- The atmospheres in practice differed a little for Bridgeport's boys and girls soccer teams. On the eve of their respective regional semifinal games, girls coach Amy Miller took a more authoritative approach, stopping midway through drills to have her players run an extra sprint when focus seemed to wane. Boys coach Ian McAra was a little more relaxed -- once even jumping into scrimmage.
Both hope their approaches have a similar, positive influence.
The Indians boys team, ranked No. 7, take on No. 2 Parkersburg, while the girls will play No. 1 Parkersburg South. Both games will be held at Lewis County High School. Kickoff for the girls game is set for 5:30 p.m. The boys contest begins at approximately 7:30.
"Their team's very good. I think they've been ranked No. 1 for about all of the season except the last week," McAra said. "It's not going to be easy, but if we keep playing the way we have over the past two weeks, we've got a good chance of winning."
The Indians (19-1-2) tied the Big Reds, 1-1, two weeks ago and then defeated No. 3 Wheeling Park, 4-0. Throughout the postseason, Bridgeport has outscored its two opponents, 15-0.
Parkersburg (18-2-2) coasted to its sectional title, as well, defeating Parkersburg South, 7-2, to advance to tonight's game.
McAra said the Indians wasted a few early opportunities in their last game with the Big Reds. Bridgeport took a 1-0 lead before Parkersburg tied the score.
"I thought we played well but at the same time, Parkersburg came right back at us," McAra said. "I think the one things we could've done better was to take our chances a little better early on."
Junior Derek Hotsinpiller will start in goal. Hotsinpiller was stellar this season with a .39 goals against average. Senior Kerrin Sheldon set a new school record with 37 goals this season, breaking teammate Kash Kiefer's former mark by two. Vitor Perez followed with 26, while Kiefer added 22.
The starting lineup is rounded out by Matt Sander (sr.), Kyle Sappington (sr.), Brink Murray (sr.), Josh Brown (fresh.), Anthony Ferrari (jr.), Tyler Williams (sr.) and David Haws (sr.).
Like their boys team, the Indians girls squad is familiar with their opponent, albeit with a much different result. The girls lost to the top-ranked Patriots, 6-1, in early September.
However, it was after that loss that the Indians went on an eight-game unbeaten streak.
"We think we're a little more prepared for them this time," Miller said. "We watched film of that game and saw some things we really feel like we've improved on and what our strengths are against them.
"Two of their goals came on corner kicks. We've done a lot defensively with that. The other thing we've worked on is not letting them get the breakaways. That's something they did the last time."
Both teams had struggles getting here.
The Indians rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat Lewis County, 2-1, while Parkersburg South went to penalty kicks to beat Parkersburg, 2-1, after a 4-2 margin in a penalty kick shootout.
"We had five girls who weren't eligible until the fourth game of the season who hadn't been used to playing with everyone the first time we played them," Miller said. "We have been gradually getting better and doing different things."
Junior Jamie Lyle will start in goal. Starting in the back are Kaitlin Bishop (fresh.), Brittany Morphis (jr.), Jessie Mayfield (sr.) and Laura Clevenger (jr.). Patricia Sparks (sr.) and Danielle Kelly (soph.) will be at midfield, while outside are Emily Moore (jr.) and Samara Nelson (soph.). Up top is the team's leading scorer, Amanda Fischer (soph.) and Jessie Reed (sr.).
Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org