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Kicking their way to history: West Branch duo making impact on football team

BELOIT, Ohio (WYTV) – It’s been a busy fall for two West Branch girls soccer players.

Gillian Koneval and Olivia McLean are both senior captains on the pitch. They’ve combined for 25 goals this season, on a team that’s undefeated through 12 games. Plus, the duo made history on the football field this season.

“[Soccer and football] are really not that much different,” said Koneval.

“Ya, I mean we wear our soccer cleats, it’s pretty much the same thing, just a little bit different form,” replied McLean.

Koneval and McLean are naturals on the soccer field at West Branch, but this fall, they went outside their comfort zone and became the school’s first ever female kickers on the football team. The two got their start last November at the school’s Powder Puff game, when their skills quickly got the attention of the football team.

“All our guys are like oh my gosh, you guys are so good, you need to go kick!” said Koneval.

“In the actual game, we scored a touchdown and I went in and took a PAT and made it,” said McLean. “Then the football coach approached us and asked us if we were interested in doing it.”

And the rest is history. Both girls went to every football practice this summer and in Week 2, against Beaver Local, their hard work paid off. Both Koneval and McLean hit extra points, becoming the first females in school history to score in a football game.

“It was really nerve-racking,” said McLean. “But now that we’ve done it multiple times, it’s out of our system now.”

“We both high-fived each other,” said Koneval. “It was a huge sigh of relief that we both made it.”

Since then, the two have not missed, connecting on all five of their extra-point attempts. They’ve helped the Warriors to a 5-1 record, and paved the way for future female kickers.

“We’ve had a couple kids come up to us and ask if we could show them in the future,” said McLean.

“Ya, little kids have come up to us and wanted high-fives as we’re walking back to the locker room,” said Koneval. “So I would not trade it for anything. I would do it all over again.”

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