Thursday, May 17, 2018, defeat ends CHS Lady Hornets' best-ever season, record-wise, at 15-5.
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Not unexpectedly dominating ball posession from start to finish, Kansas City: St. Pius X’s soccer Lady Warriors captured a fifth-straight district championship Thursday evening, shutting out host Chillicothe 3-0 in the Class 2 District 16 Tournament title match at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II.
While that result extends SPX’s season – the 17-4-1 Lady Warriors will visit Maryville for a state tournament first-round match May 19, it concludes the finest season ever, record-wise, for CHS’ Lady Hornets.
In the 12th season of the sport at the school, this year’s mostly-underclasswomen squad – there were four seniors, three of whom started regularly – posted a 15-5 won-lost record. That is the most wins in program history and the best winning percentage (.750) ever. In addition, the 7-matches winning streak St. Pius X terminated Thursday is a new program standard.
The district-championship clash saw the Kansas City Catholic school’s team use its skills and precision ball-handling and ball and player movement to dictate play and keep Chillicothe on its heels from the start.
Still, the Lady Hornets were only one well-executed play or lucky break from being even nearly midway through the second half.
The only scoring of the first 55 minutes of the 80-minutes match came relatively early.
In the 10th minute, SPX, which will join CHS and six other schools in the Midland Empire Conference next school year and thus will become an annual fixture on the Lady Hornets’ schedule, got the ball on the foot of sophomore Sophia Cissel and she finished just less than 10 minutes in.
Despite being pinned in its own end of Bob Fairchild Field most of the time and often within its defensive third of the pitch, Chillicothe fended off the talented KC squad the rest of the half to reach intermission behind only 1-0.
With hope that one moment might produce the right sequence of action that could put them back level and heap pressure on St. Pius X, the Lady Hornets stayed within one through the first 10, then 15 minutes of the second half.
However, the heightened hopes of the avid Chillicothe faithful in attendance – that, in a flash, the Lady Hornets could pull even with limited regulation time remaining and perhaps get the match into sudden-death overtime, where anything could happen – were effectively dashed by a piece of dazzling execution by the visitors.
Getting the ball away from their own penalty area after yet another SPX offensive thrust, Chillicothe sent a lengthy kick across midfield near the east sideline.
The Lady Hornets momentarily had possession of it there, albeit with the Lady Warriors still in good defensive position, when a St. Pius X player challenged and took it away. With two quick, short, accurate passes, the KC team slid the ball up its right sideline to senior Rachel Kolich some 50 yards from the CHS goal.
However, in a matter of seconds, Kolich had pulled the ball inside a nearly Lady Hornets player trying to defender and dribbled into open space, angling toward the middle of the pitch and the goal at the north end of Bob Fairchild Field.
As she got within 40 yards and a deeper Chillicothe defender started to move toward her, Kolich not only deftly slipped the ball to the teammate ahead of her left unguarded by the challenging CHS player, but, once without the ball, accelerated to full speed straight up the middle of the pitch.
The teammate who had accepted the pass read Kolich’s thoughts and played the ball with touch past one of the Lady Hornets between herself and the goal. With the CHS player facing the passer, when the ball went several yards wide of that defender, the charging Kolich easily was able to race past her and get to the ball about eight yards into the CHS penalty area.
That left her one on one with goalkeeper Kennedie Kieffer, who had no prayer of stopping Kolich’s one-touch shot. In the 58th minute, it now was 2-0, St. Pius X.
That effectively put the match out of Chillicothe’s reach, but the Lady Warriors managed some late insurance to be safe.
Off a 73rd minute throw-in from the right sideline just outside the CHS “18” (penalty area), SPX threw the ball in short to an unguarded player, who quickly lofted the ball high into the air toward the goalmouth.
There, tall, stalwart ’keeper Kieffer was positioned to pull it down, but, with SPX freshma Amber Mears moving toward the ball and right next to her as she reached to claim it, the goalkeeper had the ball slip out of her gloved grasp as she landed. When it dropped to the artificial turf, it was right in front of Mears, who stroked it home before any Lady Hornet could do anything, setting the final score of 3-0.