Day after losing 1-0 to St. Joseph: Benton team they previoiusly had dispatched 5-0, soccer Lady Hornets followed up prior 5-0 win over Cameron with 2-0 home triumph

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — One dank day after losing to a team they previously had defeated 5-0 this 2019 season, the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS soccer Lady Hornets lined up against another foe they had bested 5-0 in a prior 2019 clash.

For most of the home match, they found themselves vulnerable to a possible repeat before finally posting a 2-0 Midland Empire Conference triumph over Cameron.

Surprised at St. Joseph: Benton 1-0 Monday, Chillicothe (11-4, 2-2 MEC) found itself still scoreless with the Lady Dragons entering the final 10 minutes of the opening half Tuesday, April 30, before pouncing on a forced break.

Having, at last, started to exert some consistent pressure on the Cameron defense, Chillicothe senior Sarah Graves attempted to feed the ball ahead from a short distance outside the Lady Dragons’ penalty area for a possible short-range scoring chance when the pass hit the hand of a Cameron player a few yards inside “the 18” (penalty area). The illegal touch in that spot meant the awarding of a penalty kick.

Graves stepped to “the spot” – 12 yards out from the Cameron goal line in the middle of the pitch – and, after considering her strategic options, strode unfettered to the ball and drove it with her right foot. The Lady Dragons goalkeeper, positioned in the middle of the goal on the goal line didn’t get any pre-contact read on where Graves might aim and could only helplessly watch from there as the hard, rising shot sailed past – about waist-high – well to her left and several yards inside the left goalpost. Only 7:02 before intermission, Chillicothe was in front, 1-0, on Graves’ 11th goal of the season.

As the final seconds of the first half ticked off – a time rarely involving any drama or uncertainty, the Lady Hornets managed to generate an excellent scoring opportunity.

Playing the ball out of a bit of a scramble from the extreme west (offensive right) sideline near midfield on the Cameron half of the pitch directed toward the Cameron goal, Chillicothe sent it on further into the penalty area with about five seconds on the clock.

Despite the Cameron goalkeeper coming out to try to corral it and another Lady Dragons back or two in the vicinity, somehow Lady Hornets freshman Lucy Reeter managed to create enough disruption in their midst that the ball ended up a couple of yards past the ’keeper with an off-balance Reeter between the netminder and the ball and, for a brief instant, no Cameron player between her and the goal only about seven yards away.

Aware time was about to expire as a customary oral countdown intoned by the public address announcer boomed from the Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II sound system, Reeter tried to spin around to face the goal enough to propel the ball forward and into the gaping goal, but just as she appeared to make that contact, a lunging Lady Dragon extended a leg and it blocked the ball’s rolling path. As it rolled harmlessly away, time ran out and the match remained 1-0.

With the advantage heading into the second 40 minutes, Chillicothe’s defense grew even stingier, not giving Cameron any clear-cut shots at senior netminder Kennedie Kieffer from any dangerous distance and allowing only a few longer-range attempts to force Kieffer into action.

However, contrary to the teams’ first meeting at Cameron earlier in April, the Lady Dragons were being more effective in thwarting the Chillicothe attack. Although the Lady Hornets had several rushes toward the net that threatened to produce a high-quality scoring chance, none really materialized. The hosts did get a few shots through to the goalkeeper, but none through the first 25-plus minutes that severely tested her.

Finally, though, with just under 13 minutes left in the second half, Chillicothe senior Maggie Pfaff, already the team leader in assists, gained control of the ball about 30 yards from the Cameron net in the middle of the pitch. Working her way past a Lady Dragon or two, she found a lane to slide the ball softly ahead to her right where freshman MaKayla Vance could run onto it from her right outside midfielder’s post.

Getting to the ball with a clean look at the Lady Dragons goal from about 15 yards away on the offensive right, Vance drove her right foot through the ball and drilled a good-velocity shot past the Cameron goalkeeper on the “short” side (between the ’keeper and the left goalpost). Rippling the cords about halfway up the back of the goal, Vance’s third goal of the season made it 2-0, Chillicothe, in the 68th minute, effectively sealing the triumph while earning Pfaff her sixth assist of 2019.

The remaining minutes saw Chillicothe keep Cameron hemmed in its own end of artificial-turfed Bob Fairchild FIeld most of the time, creating a few more good, but unrewarded, scoring chances, the best of which was an open shot from perhaps 12-15 yards for senior back Sydney Baxter in the wake of a number of corner kicks she took down the stretch. Baxter’s blast, attempting to net her first goal of the season, sailed just a bit too high and out of play.

When the last second of the 80 minutes ticked off the stadium clock, Kieffer and Chillicothe had posted a 10th shutout in 2019, raising the goalkeeper’s school-record total to 27.

The CHS girls are due to have their second of 4-consecutive home matches today at 5 p.m. against conference foe Savannah.

Due to Cameron’s shortage of players, there was no junior-varsity competition Tuesday.