Sedalia turns 'keeper's early big saves into 3-0 win in homecoming for its second-year head coach, Chillicothe native Meredith Brick

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Reprieved by three point-blank saves by senior goalkeeper McKenna Peruisch in the match’s first 26 minutes that kept the score level at 0-0, Chillicothe High School alumna Meredith Brick’s Sedalia: Smith-Cotton Lady Tigers pounced on two CHS Lady Hornets defensive breakdowns in the last 10 minutes of the opening half to seize a 2-0 intermission lead and eventually secure a 3-0 victory in both teams’ 2019 girls’ soccer season opener Friday evening.
“The match was hard-fought by both sides with physical play,” Chillicothe head coach Shannon Grable commented.
A challenging Peruisch blocked Maggie Pfaff’s shot less than 10 yards from the Sedalia goal after CHS right outside forward Magy Thomas outdueled two Lady Tigers to free up the ball in the penalty area in the match’s sixth minute.
About seven minutes later, freshman Lucy Reeter ran onto Pfaff’s forward pass about 40 yards from the goal and, with a defender hounding her off her right shoulder, dribbled all the way to within about 10 yards, only to have Peruisch aggressively approach once she reached “the 18” (penalty area) and successfully reject Reeter’s shot.
After Sedalia’s first offensive thrust went awry when a 2-on-1 rush into the Chillicothe penalty area ended with a shot pulled left past diving ’keeper Kennedie Kieffer rolled wide of the right goalpost in the 22nd minute, Chillicothe made another bid to draw first blood.
In the 26th minute, Pfaff again found herself less than 10 yards from the SCHS net with only Peruisch between her and it, only to be stonewalled by the Lady Tigers netminder again.
At that point, a good bit of the wind seemed to come out of the Chillicothe sails as Sedalia began to dominate possession, being far more accurate with its passes and, as a result, coordinated in its attack. Its better technical play soon led to the match’s and season’s first goal in the 32nd minute.
Middle forward Freja Ketilsson found herself with the ball in the middle of the field about 30-40 yards from the CHS net and with time and room to navigate. Exploiting a crease which repeatedly showed up in the Lady Hornets’ defensive alignment, she moved toward the Chillicothe penalty area, luring two or three backs toward her. In doing so, she opened space for speedy left outside forward Adamaris Ramirez, just wide of the goal.
With a well-paced pass between the CHS defenders, Ketilsson allowed Ramirez to run onto the ball only about eight yards from the Chillicothe net. While ’keeper Kieffer, as Peruisch had successfully done on the other end, came out to cut down the angle, freshman Ramirez had just enough time and room to send the ball toward the net before the CHS goalie got right on top of her. While the diving Kieffer seemed to get her arms on the shot as it went past her on her right, the redirection only served to put the ball off the right goalpost at a shallow angle which let it cross the goal line for the icebreaker.
Had Chillicothe been able to limit the first-half damage to that single goal, the second half might have unfolded differently, but a sensational effort by Ramirez led to Ketilsson setting up a second SCHS tally only 2-1/2 minutes before intermission.
Off a Chillicothe right-sideline throw-in deep on the Lady Tigers’ defensive end, Ramirez came all the way back to within about 20 yards of the SCHS end line to help a teammate gain control of the ball.
With a good bit of empty artificial turf ahead of her, she immediately set sail up the west sideline of the pitch at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II. By the time a Chillicothe player closed in on her from the middle of the field and another from in front, Ramirez was approaching midfield.
With limited room to work with, the Lady Tiger timed perfectly a hard, straight-ahead touch of the ball to send it past the two Lady Hornets seeking to intersect her path. That allowed the Sedalia player to easily veer around the player directly ahead and, still at high speed, regain possession of the ball, now on the CHS side of midfield.
Finally, as she got within about 15-20 yards of the Chillicothe end line, one Lady Hornet was able to head her off to prevent her from angling inward toward the net and another drew close alongside s Ramirez slowed.
However, with a quick spin toward the sideline while keeping the ball on her right foot, the SCHS freshman backtracked just far enough to create room for her to send a crisp, turf-hugging pass toward the middle of the field where Ketilsson was trailing the play, unmarked.
Taking the ball in stride, Ketilsson, this time with no on between her and the goal, charged toward it, causing Kieffer to again move out toward her to try to cut off a potential shot’s angle to the net. As she did, Ketilsson, seemingly anticipating the scenario, hooked a left-footed shot-pass well to Kieffer’s left toward the open goalmouth area near the left post. While the ball was heading wide of the goal, the combination of its measured pace and the anticipation of right outside forward Marta Treuner allowed the unimpeded senior to catch up to the ball about five yards before it went wide and, from only a few yards from the goal line, easily redirect it into the gaping, empty net at 37:30 of the match.
Down by two goals and having generated no high-quality shots since the 26th minute, Chillicothe needed a spark early in the second half, but, once more, Peruisch drowned it.
In the sixth minute of the last half, Reeter once more found herself one on one with the goalie, although this time without having the ball under her control. Instead, as she caught up with a teammate’s pass only about eight yards out from the right goalpost, she could only try to quickly get it past the onrushing Peruisch quickly closing in on her. Reeter’s attempt once more glanced off the netminder’s body and away from the goal.
That proved to be the Lady Hornets’ last tough shot on frame. Twice later, with the margin up to 3-0, CHS sent balls into the goalmouth area, hoping to find a friendly foot that could carom them home, but neither time did that happen.
Just over 13 minutes into the second half, ex-Lady Hornet Brick’s Sedalia squad delivered the knockout blow.
Following a disputable foul called on Chillicothe when a literally-flying Ramirez collided with a Lady Hornet who had just beaten her to a ball and cleared it upfield and the SCHS player bounced off and to the turf, the subsequent Sedalia free kick from about 50 yards carried into the CHS “18.”
As Chillicothe struggled to corral it in a battle with one Lady Tiger, the ball squirted loose directly into the path of Treuner. With a soft touch or two, she maneuvered into just enough open space to get a solid, right-footed shot away along the ground from about 15 yards out. Released from about directly in front of the left goalpost of the CHS net, Treuner pulled her well-placed, though not high-velocity, shot across the goalmouth area just beyond the 6’ Kieffer’s dive to her right. Staying on a straight line, the ball stayed about three feet inside the far, right goalpost, crossing the goal line with 26:53 remaining in the match.
While saluting the “great saves” by Peruisch that kept his team from getting the early lead, Grable lauded the outstanding play of his own team’s netminder.
“Kennedie had… some fantastic saves on her way to a 20-saves evening. The Lady Tigers used a ’high press’ offense to put pressure on our defense all night. For most of the match, the Lady Hornets were up to the task.”
The next match for the soccer Lady Hornets is slated for Monday, March 18, when they’ll begin something of a week-long, district-tournament mini-preview with play at Kirksville. Chillicothe will host Moberly, like CHS and Kirksville, one of the four teams assigned to the postseason’s Class 2 District 15, next Thursday at 5 p.m.
The fourth team in District 15 – the tournament host site for which has not yet been disclosed by the Missouri State High School Activities Association – is Cameron.
In Friday’s full-length junior-varsity match which began Friday’s action, CHS’ JV Lady Hornets came out victorious, 1-0, on  Reeter’s goal and team-oriented defense that held off a late surge from Sedalia. Sophomore goalkeeper Londin Edds earned the shutout win, including making a diving save to preserve it and the win in the final 5-7 minutes.