(Updated Friday 6:30 p.m. with Baxter record-tying details) CHS Thursday roundup: Booters' junior drills home all four goals, two assisted by Cueni-Smith, in 4-1 home victory over St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond. Golfer Jones places fourth in St. Joseph: Central tournament. KC: St. Pius X dominates volleyball play
CHS booters kick it in gear, thwart Bishop LeBlond, 4-1
Thursday home win locks Hornets into MEC title contender status at 4-0
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — The Chillicothe (Mo.) HS soccer Hornets’ strategy in Thursday’s (Sept. 12, 2019) match against one of their traditionally-keenest rivals – St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond’s Golden Eagles – might be most-quickly summarized this way: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The Hornets’ top offensive weapon, junior forward Mason Baxter, buried two break-in scoring chances in the Midland Empire Conference match’s first 10-1/2 minutes and matched that output in the first 20 minutes of the second half, matching the Hornets’ record for individual goals in a match, as Chillicothe registered a clear-cut 4-1 triumph at CHS’ Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II.
The four tallies doubled Baxter’s early-season output to team-best eight goals. In becoming the first Hornet ever to score the team’s only four goals in a match, he equaled the single-game record originally established by Jacob Rockhold in the program’s third match ever in 2007. Rockhold duplicated that output a season later, Jon Kline also did it twice (2013, ’14), and Steven Cooper (2010), Connor Ruoff (2011), and Derek Hussey (2014) also netted four shots once each.
”I thought (it) was our most-complete game to date,” Tim Cunningham, long-time Chillicothe head coach, reflected. “Our defense played really strong against an aggressive LeBlond attack and we were able to take advantage of the chances we got in our attack.”
The triumph was the Hornets’ third of the week – all over MEC foes, leaving them with a 4-1 overall record and a perfect 4-0 league ledger.
“That’s three quality opponents and I thought our guys raised their level all week and met every challenge head-on,” Cunningham saluted in a post-match chat with the C-T.
They won’t have a chance to improve or diminish for two weeks, although they are due to have several non-conference and a tournament in the interim. CHS’ next scheduled conference contest is set for Sept. 26 at Savannah.
“We’ve put ourselves in a nice position, but we still have a long way to go,” assessed the Chillicothe coach
Baxter, twice set up by sophomore Ben Cueni-Smith – now owner of a team-high six assists, had his 3-goals “hat trick” before the visitors managed their first and only marker on Luke Metcalf’s penalty kick at 48:29 of the match.
The contest on artificially-turfed Bob Fairchild Field saw the hosts establish an early advantage in field position and finally cashed in for the first time just less than seven minutes in on a solo effort.
Having already seen the Golden Eagles’ back line mishandle or lose the ball when pressured several times, Baxter challenged a BLHS defender with the ball just outside the Golden Eagles’ “18” (penalty area) and got the desired result.
Stealing the ball and directing it behind the back, Baxter easily out-raced the BLHS goalkeeper to the ball inside the penalty area and, from 10 yards out, pumped home the first of his goals at 6:52 of the match.
A few minutes later, Baxter tipped Cueni-Smith’s feed past two Golden Eagles, allowing him again to enter the penalty area on a quick breakaway. With only ’keeper to beat, the Hornet handily did so at 10:37, providing Chillicothe with a calming, confidence-building 2-0 lead.
It stayed that way until halftime, but barely.
Although CHS continued to generally have a territorial edge, Bishop LeBlond found better cohesion to its attack and pushed the ball deep into the Chillicothe end multiple times.
With less than five minutes remaining in the opening half, the Hornets were ruled for a foul just outside their penalty area wide to goalkeeper Jaxon Albertson’s right. With CHS’ inexperienced backs tardy in reacting to the situation and sorting out their positional plans for the resumption of play, a Golden Eagle quickly spotted the ball and touched the ball to an open teammate a short distance toward the center of the pitch.
That man moved toward the net before centering the ball farther and slightly ahead to a teammate within 10 yards of the CHS net. As two of three scrambling Chillicothe defenders rightfully converged on him to prevent a clear shooting lane, that player returned the ball to the teammate who’d fed him. When other Hornets rushed him, that BLHS player softly played the ball past them to an open area only yards from the goal line and less than 10 yards to its right (from the CHS perspective).
There, Canon Sumpter had space and time to trigger a dangerous shot on net, which he did. Fortunately for Chillicothe, with one defender hurrying out to reduce Sumpter’s time and space, he ended up drilling a rising shot right at Albertson’s chest. Despite the shot coming from only about six yards away, the sophomore netminder was able to catch the shot, preventing not only a goal, but also a rebound.
As the final half-minute of the first 40 minutes drained from the scoreboard clock, Chillicothe appeared to be certain of owning a 2-0 lead at the mid-game break. However, that nearly didn’t come to pass.
Inside the final 10 seconds, with the ball in the middle third of the pitch, Bishop LeBlond pushed something of a desperation pass through the Chillicothe defense to no one in particular. However, as the ball went past those Hornets and slowed, two Golden Eagles raced toward it and one got to it around the top of the penalty area.
As he angled to his right to give himself room away from a Chillicothe defender rushing to cut off his path to the goal, the BLHS player drilled a low, turf-hugging shot toward the far side of the goal. It cleanly beat Albertson and bulged the netting with about five seconds still on the clock.
However, before the visitors and their fans on hand could celebrate, the realization came that the sideline official on the east side of the pitch had raised his flag, signalling an infraction. The ruling, as quickly anticipated, was that one or both BLHS players who had pursued the ball when it cleared the defense had been “offside,” albeit seemingly not by much, thus negating the would-be goal in the last seconds of the half. Not surprisingly, the home team fans, who would have been irate had such a close call gone against the Hornets and cost them such a tally, welcomed the wipe-away.
Once Chillicothe dodged that bullet and Baxter found the range a third time in the first few minutes of the final half, the Hornets largely had the win in hand.
That clincher again was set up by Cueni-Smith, who earned his sixth “dime” of the season by feeding the ball up the middle. Baxter controlled it and maneuvered enough to get room just inside the penalty area for a ground-ball shot with his left foot which cleanly scooted by the BLHS ’keeper at the 42:28 mark of the match.
A Bishop LeBlond scoring chance about six minutes later seemed to produce nothing more than a short-side save by Albertson of a Metcalf shot from about 15 yards out on the defensive left side. However, as the shot was being tried, the referee sighted a foul by a Hornet inside “the 18,” prompting a Golden Eagles penalty shot.
Metcalf, considered by the CHS coaching staff as clearly the St. Joseph team’s best player, took the free shot from 12 yards away and drilled it along the turf cleanly into the lower left corner of the Chillicothe goal. With 31:31 still remaining, it was back to a 2-goals game, but the Hornets largely limited any subsequent serious threats.
By the time they happened off a couple of left-corner kicks, Baxter had converted Caleb Vance’s pass into a right-footed goal from about 10 yards away on the offensive right, restoring the 3-goals gap. Vance’s setup earned him his second assist of 2019.
“We didn’t get a ton of opportunities, but the ones we got, we took advantage of,” mused Cunningham.
Of Baxter’s big match, the coach detailed, “The guys did a great job of setting him up. Every ball was right in stride for his run and then he finished.”
Holding Bishop LeBlond to a single goal – and that on a penalty kick – drew a verbal “thumbs up” from the Chillicothe coach, who singled out sophomore reserve Logan Distler “a great job” of “marking” Metcalf (defending him one on one everywhere the BLHS player went) after being inserted into the game part-way through.
As for the overall defensive performance of the multiple, still-inexperienced backs and new goalkeeper Albertson, Cunningham remarked, “They’re getting better every game. There are some new ‘pieces’ back there, some new faces that don’t have a ton of varsity experience, and, just every game, they’re getting better and getting more polished for us.
“We’ve still got to communicate way better than we are, but definitely making some strides in the right direction.”
Albertson allowed only one goal out of the eight shots the St. Joseph Catholic school put on frame.
Next on Chillicothe’s plate is slated to be a Tuesday match at Knob Noster.
CHS’ Hallie Jones earns fourth in St. Joe golf tourney
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Hallie Jones, Chillicothe High School’s 2-times state-tournament-qualifying golfer, showed her finest 2019 school-season form to date Thursday, earning fourth place in the individual standings in the Central Invitational Tournament at St. Joseph’s Moila Golf Course.
The junior posted an 18-holes round of 87, only two strokes away from tying for second place behind medalist Averi Mickelson of Liberty: North, who carded a 79.
Showing good ability to deal with the occasionally-rainy, gusty conditions of the day, Jones finished three strokes ahead of Maryville’s Emily Long, who bested her by nine shots for the individual championship of the Maryville Invitational Tournament last Monday.
With junior Gabby Hapes unable to make the trip to St. Joseph, Chillicothe did not have enough players for a team score, but CHS head coach Tim Marsh praised sophomore, first-year players Quincey Jessen and Brooke Williams for each improving their scores significantly from their first two competitions.
Jessen finished the 18 holes in 126 swings, about 15 strokes better than her prior average. Williams carded a 131, also 15 shots better than her average through her previous 27 holes of competition.
Weather permitting, the golf Lady Hornets will host players from Southwest Livingston and Hamilton: Penney this coming Monday (Sept. 16) at Green Hills Golf Course. It is possible none of the schools will have enough players for a team competition.
Play is set to begin at GHGC at 4 p.m.
First defeat for 2019 CHS spikers
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — The 2019 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS volleyball Lady Hornets squeaked out a comeback victory in their debut and then dominated another non-conference opponent in their first two outings.
When they stepped into the rugged Midland Empire Conference arena Thursday night, however, the story ended differently.
Kansas City: St. Pius X, routinely a very strong program – as it demonstrated last fall by winning the MEC crown in undefeated style in its inaugural year in the loop, cruised into the CHS gym and administered a 25-16, 25-13 defeat to the inexperienced Lady Hornets.
Given Chillicothe’s extensive lack of varsity seasoning in its roster, dropping the match by those totals could be viewed as an encouraging sign, given the quality of the opponent.
Chillicothe will try its league luck again next Thursday, welcoming the league’s other Catholic school – St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond. Before then, however, the Lady Hornets spikers will play at another non-conference neighbor – Carrollton – on Tuesday, seeking to add the Lady Trojans to the list of nearby victims that includes Trenton and Brookfield.
Beyond the final scores of the games, the Chillicothe statistics from the match with St. Pius X were rather sickly.
Team statisticians marked the Lady Hornets for only five successful “kills” (spikes) and nary a blocked SPX spike attempted. MaKayla Vance led the floor defense with eight “digs” and Selby Miller had six. Only four assists were earned by CHS passers and the Lady Warriors returned every Chillicothe serve which made it over the net.