Were virtually perfect in Moberly tournament April 12-13, pairing strong attack with tight defense to outscore three foes a combined 13-0
MOBERLY, Mo. — All the pieces of the puzzle fit snugly in place for the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS soccer Lady Hornets over the weekend as they claimed the championship of the Lady Spartan Invitational Tournament at Moberly with an essentially-perfect team points total.
With winning squads earning three points, tied matches giving each side a tally, and 1-point bonuses available for shutouts, the Lady Hornets not only won all three of their matches, but did not surrender any goals, resulting in a maxed-out 12 team points.
Although the unbalanced schedule of the 6-teams tournament technically provided a scenario in which a lone undefeated team was not guaranteed the title, the CHS booters took virtually no chance, although one or two other teams theoretically could have matched their total.
Instead, none of the other teams managed to go 3-0, much less do so with shutouts in each match, so, by the time Chillicothe (7-3) completed its play with a second 1-0 win over Kirksville this season late Saturday afternoon, it had the crown clinched.
The Lady Hornets’ veteran defense was flawless throughout Friday’s 5-0 victory over Mexico’s Lady Bulldogs and Saturday’s repeat triumphs over Moberly and Kirksville and CHS’ most-dangerous attackers did their “thing,” a couple of heretofore non-scorers made their presences significantly felt.
Freshman MaKayla Vance produced her first varsity offensive “points” of 2019 with her first goal late in the first half of the 7-0 stomping of Moberly – the second time Chillicothe had dominated the Lady Spartans by that count – and then found the range again – once more shortly before halftime – to post the only goal in the triumph over Kirksville which replicated the score of CHS’ double-overtime victory at Kirksville earlier this spring.
Also penning her name onto the scoresheet for the first time – and then twice – was senior Caitlyn Cothern.
Used almost exclusively as a goalkeeper during her sophomore and junior years and producing five shutouts in that role in 2017 as she filled in for injured starter Kennedie Kieffer, Cothern – while continuing to be Kieffer’s backup, if needed – is being utilized in an “up-the-field” reserve role in her senior season.
During the tourney, as head coach Shannon Grable utilized the team’s depth liberally to deal with a busy schedule, Cothern registered both her first and second goals against Mexico and Moberly, respectively, and then set up Vance’s game-winner against Kirksville.
The Lady Hornets, who are to play a 5 p.m. Midland Empire Conference match at Cameron Monday, took care of business in the weekend tournament right from the start.
Against Mexico, senior forward/midfielder Sarah Graves popped in her fifth and sixth goals of the season and added an assist, freshman Lucy Reeter rang up her team-leading eighth goal, and senior Maggie Pfaff posted not only her fourth goal of ’19, but also assisted twice. Those were in addition to Cothern’s goal just before halftime that made it 3-0 at the break, according to Grable.
At the opposite end of the pitch, behind the mostly-veteran back line – with sophomore Hannah Dominique filling in for senior Kaylee Lewis on the left outside, senior goalkeeper Kennedie Kieffer kept the door to the CHS goal completely shut for a fifth time in 2019.
After a late-evening trip home from Moberly and a very-early-morning journey back for a 9 a.m. clash Saturday, the Lady Hornets proved the pavement time was of no consequence by matching their previous 7-0 home win over Moberly as Pfaff posted the team’s second “hat trick” of the season.
Grable reports the senior, beginning to blossom as a significant scoring threat, now that she’s healthy enough to play regularly, started the scoring in the 15th minute off a corner kick from Sydney Baxter and made it 2-nil in the 25th minute by finishing on a setup by midfielder Addie Ficken.
Vance’s inaugural varsity goal made it 3-0 and, just before half, Graves fired home a rebound of a Reeter shot on goal to make it 4-0.
Only four minutes into the last half, Pfaff completed her 3-goals hat trick off a Graves cross, the coach shared, and, minutes later, Reeter registered her ninth of the year off Graves’ first setup of the season.
Cothern ended the scoring by sending home her second goal of the tourney off a Pfaff’s third assist in the 73rd minute.
With every other team in the tournament already having lost or tied at least once, Chillicothe took the Moberly High pitch for its 3 p.m. finale against Kirksville with a simple roadmap. Win and the title would belong to it.
Just as in their meeting at Kirksville, which went to double overtime before Graves won it in the last minute of the second OT, KHS’ Lady Tigers didn’t make it easy for CHS to prevail, but neither could they prevent it.
Whereas the only scoring of the teams’ prior duel came late in the second OT, this time it was a late strike by Chillicothe in the first half that spelled the difference. Inside the last four minutes of the half, Vance scored off Cothern’s assist.
While Chillicothe might have approached the last half with a different mindset had the match still been 0-0, having the slim lead allowed it to play things cozy, as far as attacking, and to make sure it was in solid position defensively.
The defense-first approach proved successful, making the lone goal stand up and allowing the Lady Hornets to finish the tournament 3-0 with the maximum-possible team points.
Statistically, the quarter-dozen doughnuts CHS posted raised its and Kieffer’s season total to seven shutouts. The senior netminder’s career total now is 24, most in Lady Hornets history.
Offensively, Chillicothe exited the tourney with three players – Reeter, Pfaff, and Graves – with at least seven goals on the season now and with six different players having found the net in only 10 matches this season. While the team’s hallmark is goal prevention, its per-match goal-scoring average has risen to a healthy 2.8 entering Monday’s action at Cameron.