Run of six victories in a row ends when CHS blanked 1-0 at St. Joseph: Benton April 29, 2019
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — An aggressive approach that kept Chillicothe penned up on its own end of the pitch much of the time, especially in the second half, allowed the St. Joseph: Benton soccer Lady Cardinals to fashion a huge turnaround from their prior meeting with CHS’ Lady Hornets and walk off BHS’ Sparks Field 1-0 winners Monday (April 29, 2019).
Dominated 5-0 on the artificial turf of Bob Fairchild Field at CHS’ Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II at the start of April, Benton took advantage of the far-slower natural grass of its home pitch which made quick transitions with long passes less effective than they are on ersatz grass.
With consistent recovery of the ball around midfield or well into the CHS end, Benton’s superior ball maneuvering led to repeated scoring opportunities from within 25 yards. Midway through the second half, the Lady Cardinals cashed one of them in and made it stand up for victory.
Deprived of an apparent mid-first-half goal by a rule technicality on a penalty kick attempt resulting from a suspect foul call on CHS, Benton nevertheless continued to carry the play to Chillicothe and finally found the formula just as the match passed the mid-point of the second half.
Connecting on a couple of counterattack passes, Benton got the ball from near midfield to the feet of Malia Johnson inside the Chillicothe penalty area to the defensive right side of the field,
Rather than looking to try to dribble the ball closer to the goal with a defender looming in front of her and also eschewing crossing the ball to the other side past several CHS players in hopes of finding a teammate, Johnson – perhaps alerted orally by teammates or the nearby BHS bench – instead played a diagonal pass backward about 10 yards toward the middle of the pitch, right into the path of onrushing teammate Carsyn Osborn.
Not breaking stride, she touched the ball back slightly ahead and to her right to get past a Lady Hornet before driving a right-footed shot high into the upper left corner of the CHS goal from 22 yards out.
Trailing for certain now, Chillicothe managed to quickly generate its best scoring chance of the match when Maggie Pfaff fed a pass back to Sarah Graves just inside the Benton penalty area on a give-and-gol play about a minute after Osborn’s goal. With a clean look at the BHS net from 17 yards out, Graves zipped a shot toward the far (right) side of the net, but put just a bit too much air under it, the ball sailing about a foot over the crossbar and out of play.
Just over three minutes later, a Benton foul just outside its penalty area near the offensive right sideline gave CHS another chance to square things, but Sydney Baxter’s crossing shot from about 25 yards away curved wide of the far (right) goalpost and no Lady Hornet read its arc well enough to run under it and either redirect it on goal or play it back to the goalmouth.
Despite desperately needing a goal to have a chance to keep their 6-matches winning streak going, the Lady Hornets never created another quality scoring opportunity over the remaining 14-plus minutes. Benton continued to be more determined to win “50-50” balls and more effective in both its dribbling and passing, allowing it to regularly have play on the Chillicothe defensive end of the pitch and effectively run out the clock.
The outcome dropped CHS’ record to 10-4 overall and 1-2 in the Midland Empire Conference.
The Lady Hornets will host Cameron in more league play Tuesday (April 30) at 5 p.m.