Class 2 Lady Hornets defeat Class 1 Concordia: St. Paul Lutheran for a sixth-straight time across six seasons, fifth-straight time by two goals. Thursday (April 25, 2019) Chillicothe triumph runs current 2019 wins streak to six

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Chillicothe (Mo.) HS' 2019 soccer Lady Hornets posted a pair of sixth-straight victories at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II Thursday, April 25, when they shut out Concordia: St. Paul Lutheran’s Lady Saints 2-0.

It was the sixth consecutive triumph for this year’s CHS squad, boosting their record to 10-3.

It also was their sixth conquest of the Concordia boarding school’s distaff booters in the past six years – the fifth in a row by a 2-goals gap. This year's Lady Saints are ranked in the top 10 in Class 1, CHS coach Shannon Grable notes.

The Lady Hornets defense and senior goalkeeper Kennedie Kieffer registered their ninth shutout of the season – the CHS-record 26th of Kieffer’s career, making quick-succession mid-second-half goals by senior Sarah Graves and freshman Lucy Reeter sufficient for success.

The Chillicothe soccer girls are scheduled to chase win No. 7 in a row Monday at St. Joseph: Benton at 5 p.m. They defeated Benton 5-0 at home earlier in the season.

With a strong, chilling north wind sweeping down the Litton Stadium “bowl” from one end of the pitch to the other, Grable gambled at match’s start, choosing to have his team attacking into the wind.

“I thought (the Lady Saints) probably wouldn’t have their legs under them right away and we might be able to keep them under control and then have the wind helping us when we were already in gear the second half,” he told the C-T afterward.

The wager – probably more educated guess than flat-out gamble, given the Lady Hornets’ seasoned and polished defense – paid off.

Even with the Lady Hornets having some anxious moments with a few wayward passes in their defensive half of the pitch in the first 40 minutes, St. Paul Lutheran never got a high-quality scoring chance or challenging shot at the estimable Kieffer.

Although it did not result in a shot on net, Chillicothe used a nice 4-players, zig-zag passing sequence inside the Concordia team’s defensive third of Bob Fairchild Field to generate the potentially-most-dangerous chance of the first 40 minutes.

A sequence of passes from sophomore Allison Ishmael on the offensive left sideline to attacking midfielder Addie Ficken in the middle of the pitch ahead to forward Maggie Pfaff near the top of the SPL penalty area and then to Pfaff’s left to Reeter angling toward the net put the ball on the feet of CHS’ leading goal scorer for the season only about 10 yards from the St. Paul Lutheran goal. However, a Lady Saints back stayed in good position between Reeter and goalkeeper Jada Strickland and, with a teammate’s help, converged on Reeter to knock the ball loose and out of danger.

Once the second half began, Chillicothe confidently and consistently pushed the ball deep into the St. Paul Lutheran end of the pitch, although it took about 5-10 minutes to get a feel for how to place the ball and read teammates’ passes with the wind now helping carry the ball forward, rather than hold it up, when put into the air.

After not quite being able to finish a couple of rushes toward the visitors’ net with a shot on frame in the first 10 minutes, having the Lady Saints hemmed in on their end finally created an opportunity Graves skillfully capitalized on.

As St. Paul Lutheran drove the ball out of its penalty area, the wind slowed it and Ficken got to it and settled it about 40 yards from the net in the middle of the pitch. She quickly sent a low pass ahead to her right to Pfaff, who relayed it back toward the middle to Graves a couple of strides outside the SPL “18.”

With two defenders and the tall goalkeeper between herself and the goal, Graves instinctively sensed the odds would be against her being able to create a clear shot by trying to dribble closer. So, appearing to use the player closest to her as a screen, she slammed a low, hard, right-footed shot toward the net’s near (left) goalpost.

The netminder, perhaps not seeing the shot come off the Lady Hornet’s foot clearly because of the SPL player between them or perhaps surprised by the velocity of the shot and/or feeling like there wasn’t much chance Graves could get the ball into the few yards between the ’keeper and the goalpost a few yards to her left, didn’t react for a second. By the time she did and tried to move to her left, the low drive was sinking just enough that it skipped past her left foot no more than a foot or two inside the goalpost.

The opening goal of the match, Graves’ 10th of the season, came in the 62nd minute, earning Pfaff her team-best fifth assist.

Their sense of what “touch” they needed to put on their now-wind-aided passes growing surer with each minute and opportunity, the Lady Hornets needed only a few more minutes to create yet another chance they cashed in.

With the ball not far across midfield on the SPL side on a CHS counterattack, freshman outside midfielder MaKayla Vance gained control with time and space to assess her options.

Vance, who scored four goals in last Monday’s junior-varsity win at St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond after netting a couple of varsity goals during the recent tournament at Moberly, made a short run, then elevated a long, diagonal pass over the Lady Saints’ backline into the penalty area to the offensive left of the goal.

Chasing it down, as Vance anticipated, was the speedy Reeter, who made a quick stop as she did so. When the St. Paul Lutheran who had tried to beat her to the ball failed to stop as suddenly, Reeter was able to turn back to the inside and have a shooting lane to the goal about 10-15 yards away. Her right-footed shot easily beat ’keeper Strickland  for her team-high 12th goal and, with 25:55 remaining on the clock, Chillicothe had a 2-0 lead with its second goal in less than three minutes. Vance earned her first varsity assist for her setup pass.

To the Lady Saints’ credit, despite the disadvantage of attacking into the wind, they managed to get the ball deep into the CHS end of the pitch numerous times in their effort to try to cut into the Chillicothe lead, but again none of those forays produced a truly-threatening shot on goal.