By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Because things changed for the 2018 Chillicothe High School soccer Lady Hornets in the short term Tuesday (March 27), they stayed the same in the long view.
The Lady Hornets entered what might be – at least for the foreseeable future – their last match against departing Midland Empire Conference powerhouse Smithville having won their first two matches of the season by a combined count of 4-0 and having permitted their first two foes only one shot on goal between them.
However, lining up against a quick, experienced, and talented opponent against whom they not only had never experienced victory, but never even been able to momentarily celebrate having scored a goal, the Lady Hornets found that their early 2018 success did not portend a historical change in their history with Smithville’s Lady Warriors.
With the quicker visitors easily controlling the ball as if it had a metal cover and their shoes were magnetized, Chillicothe learned how things felt for CHS’ previous victims thus far this spring, managing to get only one shot on net in a 3-0 home loss.
The ball only sporadically crossed onto the Chillicothe offensive half of the pitch and even more rarely with the Lady Hornets in longer than momentary control of it. As such, even though the match did not produce any scoring in its first 15 minutes, it seemed inevitable that the Lady Warriors would eventually crack what had been an “iron curtain” CHS defense.
Finally, after Lady Hornets junior goalkeeper Kennedie Kieffer had made several stops, including a very good one on SHS’ Katelyn Wininger from about 23 yards out in the 13th minute, anticipation became actualization.
Another Smithville rush up the right side led to the ball being crossed into the area in front of the Chillicothe goal. A CHS defender was there to handle it, but could not settle it cleanly enough to have time and space to clear it on upfield.
Instead, the ball squirted far enough away that Smithville’s Kaitlyn Case got a touch on it to nudge it back toward the CHS net, then won a race with the defender and Kieffer to direct the ball into the middle of the goal with 19:53 having elapsed.
While the first goal the Lady Hornets yielded in 2018 took nearly 100 minutes of playing time to occur, the second came in less than another six minutes.
Just under a couple of minutes after Case had a nearly-clean solo break-in on goal, only to be rushed enough by the tall CHS ’keeper and a retreating back to lead to a shot wide of the right goalpost, another play which developed from the SHS right side doubled the visitors’ lead.
Coming up the right flank, Wininger made a perfectly-aimed and timed crossing path to Abby DeAnna about 12 yards from the goal in the middle of Bob Fairchild Field. With her left foot, DeAnna uncorked a solid shot along the turf which Kieffer had no chance to get to as it crossed the goal line a few yards inside the right goal post. With 14:10 remaining before halftime, Chillicothe trailed 2-0 and was in deep trouble, as far as trying to gain its first-ever victory over Smithville in 12 attempts.
Although the guests had a few more good or excellent scoring chances the rest of the half, the Lady Hornets managed to reach intermission down only two.
With the 2-0 lead, Smithville was able to use its ball control to keep it far away from any danger zone near its net while still probing for an opportunity to add to its lead.
Finally, with barely six minutes left, as Chillicothe tried to commit more players to the attack, SHS was able to slip the ball past the back line. From the offensive left side, Kiersten Darr came in on Kieffer 1-on-1 and, again from about only 12 yards away, drilled a left-footed shot past her into the left portion of the CHS goal.
At last, with about 2:30 to go, Chillicothe generated a true scoring opportunity, but Sarah Graves’ try was deflected wide by goalkeeper Arlee Cado, the only save the SHS ’keeper was required to make all night.
The soccer Lady Hornets (2-1, 0-1 MEC) won’t return to match action until next week when they will visit St. Joseph: Benton for a non-league contest Monday.
Tennis boys can’t hold onto lead
CHILLICOTHE — The Chillicothe High School tennis Hornets took a 2-1 lead over visiting Marshall in doubles play Tuesday, but could not garner a singles set triumph and suffered a 7-2 non-conference loss.
CHS’ No. 1 duo of Ty-ler Maas-dam and Noah Crowe got its first 2018 win, besting Zach Baker and Kolton King 8-5 and No. 2 tandem Grahm Mayers and Brenden Nelson moved to 3-0 on the year with a 9-8 (3) victory on a tiebreaker.
However, in the six singles sets, the closest the Hornets got to another win was the 6-8 loss by No. 5 player Matt Callen.
Next for the golf Hornets is to be a tournament at Cameron today, starting at 8 a.m.
Golfers get season going
CAMERON — The last CHS spring sports team to get into competition did so in cold, damp conditions Tuesday when the golf Hornets lost a dual match at Cameron, 159-216.
While the host Dragons put all four of their counting scores under 42, led by medalist Sam Morrison’s 37, Chillicothe’s only sub-50 round came from returning state qualifier Hayden Montgomery, who had a 41.
Of the Hornets’ nine golfers who played at either the varsity or junior-varsity level, seven were making their debut in interscholastic competition. The only other 2017 returnee in action Tuesday was C.J. Williams, who posted a 55.
The other Chillicothe varsity players and their scores were Colby Gillespie with a 54, Spencer Shira with a 66, and Spencer Riddle with an 81.
The Hornets golfers have another match today (Wednesday, March 28) at Savannah at 4 p.m.