Senior strikes from 30 yards on free kick with 40 seconds left in second overtime on road Monday. CHS girls square record at 1-1. Kieffer gets first 2019 shutout, extending school record.
KIRKSVILLE, Mo. — After defeating Kirksville’s Lady Tigers twice last season – both by 1-0 scores, it looked like the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS soccer Lady Hornets’ first of two or three 2019 meetings Monday would go to a post-overtimes penalty-kick “shootout” to produce, yet again, a 1-0 final result.
However, with the final minute of the second 10-minutes overtime period draining from the John Spainhower Field scoreboard clock, a referee’s whistle sounded with play about halfway between midfield and the KHS goal. The ruling was a foul by a KHS player, resulting in a CHS direct free kick from about 30 yards away from the net.
As players from both teams scrambled to gain a favorable position between the spot and the goal, Lady Hornets head coach Shannon Grable shouted for senior Sarah Graves, the 2016 and 2018 CHS teams’ top goal scorer, to take the kick, confident likely his best markswoman would get the ball through to the goalmouth area past the KHS defensive “wall.” Senior Graves, who lost virtually her entire sophomore season to a massive knee injury and then tore up her other knee in last season’s state-tournament finale, did that – and more.
From 30 yards away, according to the report from the coach, Graves’ right-footed drive not only sailed past the several players in the “wall” 10 yards ahead of her, but beyond both the remaining Kirksville defenders in the goalmouth area and the KHS goalkeeper, sailing into the net with 40 seconds left before the teams would have engaged in at least a 5-rounds “shootout” to try to decide things.
Instead, Graves’ drive produced in the same instant, Chillicothe’s first goal of the season (after nearly 180 minutes), the match’s end, and both the Lady Hornets’ first victory in two 2019 outings and the third 1-0 triumph over Kirksville (0-1) in a row.
That such dramatics were required was due, in large part, to the play of Emily Middleton, Kirksville’s sophomore goalkeeper. By Chillicothe team statisticians, the Lady Hornets out-shot the hosts 20-1, with only Graves’ last shot finding its way past Middleton. According to a story on the Kirksville Daily Express’ website, Kirksville had two shots at CHS ’keeper Kennedie Kieffer and the Lady Hornets 15 at the KHS net. Unofficially, the shutout was the 14th of Kieffer's career, extending her CHS record.
Grable summarized his team’s clear-cut advantage in play as, “a suffocating defensive effort and a relentless attack never lost faith in each other.”
Among Middleton’s many saves were one off a Chillicothe corner kick with about a half-minute left in regulation time and another in the last minute of the first overtime, according to the KDE website story.
Had Kirksville avoided the late foul or denied Chillicothe on the ensuing free kick and reached the “shootout,” it would have had a chance to replicate its most-recent victory over the Lady Hornets, which occurred on Spainhower Field in the middle of the 2017 season. KHS won that one in a PK “shootout” by a score of – you guessed it – 1-0.
As noted in the story on last Friday’s CHS match against Sedalia, this week’s play provides a mini-preview of this season’s postseason picture for Chillicothe, which has been assigned to Class 2 District 15 with Kirksville, Cameron, and Moberly.
Having now faced Kirksville, this evening at 5 p.m., the Lady Hornets will size up Moberly, this time on the home turf of Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II. Chillicothe, which has much of its lineup back from last season, shut out MHS’ Lady Spartans 3-0 at Moberly early last season.
While tonight’s clash will be CHS’ only meeting with Moberly during the regular season, the Lady Hornets will have home and away matches against Cameron and a home rematch with Kirksville later in the campaign.
The four teams then will play a 3-games district tournament at CHS’ Litton Stadium to begin the postseason.