CHS Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, roundup: Booters beaten 3-1 on two PKs at Kansas City: St. Pius X, but still have path to Midland Empire Conference title. Volleyball Lady Hornets fall in straight games at Savannah

Chillicothe High School’s soccer Hornets did not “close the deal” on a Midland Empire Conference championship Thursday (Oct. 10, 2019), but that doesn’t mean the deal is off the table.
The Hornets’ first opportunity to clinch at least a share of this fall’s MEC title resulted in a 3-1 loss at Kansas City: St. Pius X, leaving four league teams – St. Joseph: Benton and Maryville being the others – each owning 1-loss league records, but only Chillicothe with five wins already in the bank.
The Hornets (6-7-1) still can clinch at least a co-championship with St. Pius X by defeating Benton at home next Thursday.
Maryville, SPX, and Benton have multiple conference matches remaining, including both Benton-SPX and Maryville-SPX head-to-head meetings, as well others for each club which could be a challenge to win, so if CHS bests Benton, to whom it previously lost 1-0 in a non-league meeting at St. Joseph, it still could be outright MEC champion under multiple scenarios.
Because of the rained-out non-team district tennis tournament play, Thursday’s only other CHS sports action saw the volleyball Lady Hornets drop a conference match at Savannah in straight games.
THURSDAY
SOCCER
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Constant, game-long St. Pius X ball possession and pressure on the Chillicothe defense led to enough breakdowns that produced prime Warriors scoring chances that the hosts cashed in on three times.
Having withstood – at times shakily – the northern Kansas City Catholic school’s attack still in a 0-0 deadlock into the waning moments of the opening half, Chillicothe’s chances of having intermission to regroup in a still-level match looked good. Just not good enough, however.
Inside the last two minutes of the first half, another Warriors foray deep into the CHS end of the artificial-turfed pitch saw Chillicothe attempt to clear the ball back toward midfield, but misfire a bit on the try. When SPX recovered control only about 25 yards from the Hornets’ goal and quickly re-entered the Chillicothe “18” (penalty area), a CHS player trying to knock the ball away from an SPX player with it only about 15 yards to goalkeeper Jaxon Albertson’s right produced contact with the Warrior, who tumbled to the turf. Unsurprisingly, a penalty on Chillicothe was called, giving the home team a penalty kick.
Moving in to take it was Miguel Cabos, who let fly a right-footed blast high to the unmoving Albertson’s left and easily into the upper portion of the goal with a mere 1:32 remaining until halftime.
Given the Hornets’ intermittent and fruitless forays with  the ball deep into St. Pius X’s end of the pitch during the opening 40 minutes, that one goal loomed during the mid-game break as a significant barrier to be overcome. As it turned out, however, Chillicothe did not need long to counter it.
Barely three minutes into the second half, the Warriors sent the ball out of bounds on the sidelines about halfway between midfield and the Chillicothe goal line, leading to a seemingly-mundane throw-in three-quarters of the field away from the St. Pius X goal. Yet, in less than 10 seconds, the Hornets navigated that approximately 80 yards to tie the game.
An unidentified Hornet arced a high, long throw up the east sideline toward midfield, where sophomore Chace Corbin quickly chased it down. On either the first or second touch, Corbin launched a high drive toward the center of the pitch and about 25 yards farther ahead toward the enemy goal.
Corbin’s ball sailed over the heads of the two deepest SPX defensive backs and on an angle that allowed speedy Hornets junior forward and leading scorer Mason Baxter to race between them to collect the ball in wide-open space about 25-30 yards from the Warriors’ net.
Sizing up the actions of SPX goalkeeper Michael Morgan, who moved well out from his net to reduce any shooting angle for Baxter and perhaps try to influence the attacker to attempt to dribble around him or go wider in search of a clearer look at the goal, Baxter opted to fire a shot from well outside the penalty area while Morgan wasn’t set.
The Hornet’s decision proved propitious. His right-footed shot on the dead run caused the on-the-move ’keeper to slightly misjudge the low line drive’s trajectory and pace. The ball sank just enough as Morgan stretched to his right that it glanced off his right arm without losing much velocity or altering its course, allowing it to zip on into the right side of the net about 10-12 yards behind him for the match-tying goal only about 2-1/2 minutes into the second half.
With Baxter’s team-high 15th goal of the season on the scoreboard, Chillicothe had the chance to continue to focus on defending first while looking for another quick counterattack chance which might yield a similar result. The odds were working against them, however, and the edds eventually won out.
Ten minutes after seeing the game tied, St. Pius X again had the ball deep in the CHS end. A loose ball in the penalty area again forced a desperate clearing effort by Chillicothe, a kick which seemingly lessened the danger by sailing over the east sideline. However, even with a chance to reset their defense, the Hornets weren’t out of the woods.
The SPX player making the subsequent throw-in flung the ball high toward the Hornets goal about 30 yards away, causing another scramble for possession. Neither side gained it with the ball eventually glancing farther away from the net with a CHS player nearby. However, that player’s attempt to control or at least redirect the rolling ball more toward the sideline missed connections, allowing it to trickle slowly just beyond the top of the penalty area, but right into the center of the field and into the path of SPX’s approaching Eli Elliott.
With a full head of steam to provide extra thrust and no defender in position to challenge him, Elliott measured his steps and pumped a hard, rising shot from 20 yards away from the Chillicothe net. When it found an open seam past several players between him and the goal, Elliott’s shot easily zipped past the Chillicothe netminder, restoring the KC team to the lead at 2-1 with about 27 minutes remaining.
Even though behind again, Chillicothe had no success duplicating its earlier successful quick counterattack against a now-more-cautious SPX backfield nor was it able to use a sequence of passes or runs to get the ball into position for a reasonable crack at the Warriors goal.
Eventually, just past the midpoint of the second half, with the ball once more brought into the CHS “18” in traffic, a Hornets defender trying to cut off a Warrior’s path to the ball collided with the St. Pius X player, prompting another foul call and penalty kick.
With Chillicothe’s slender hopes hanging by a thread, Cabos again came forward to attempt the PK and once more nailed it. Another hard, right-footed dart again went to Albertson’s left, but this time kept low. It easily beat the Chillicothe ’keeper with 18:24 remaining in regulation time.
The Hornets kept plugging away and actually fashioned a couple of dangerous scoring chances inside the final 5-10 minutes, but came away empty-handed. Even with an excellent Albertson stop – his ninth of the match – on Cabos inside the last 10 seconds, Chillicothe sustained its first MEC defeat of the season and dipped below .500 overall.
Before the critical duel with Benton at home next Thursday, the CHS booters will try to get back to the .500 mark on the season with a non-conference clash with fellow MEC member St. Joseph: Lafayette on the road next Tuesday. The Hornets defeated Lafayette 4-0 at home early in the season in their league contest.
VOLLEYBALL
SAVANNAH, Mo. – The host Savannah Lady Savages kept Chillicothe’s volleyball Lady Hornets winless in Midland Empire Conference competition Tuesday, dominating their match en route to a 25-12, 25-14 triumph.
The CHS girls (6-14-1, 0-5 conf.) had only one player with more than one successful “kill” (spike) and no one with more than two setting assists. Maya Snyder delivered four successful finishes at net in as many tries, according to CHS statisticians. Defensively, Makayla Vance notched four defensive “digs” and Jessi Reeter three. Reeter and Haylee Coplen had two assists apiece and each also had two service aces.
The Chillicothe spikers will make their “Senior Night” final home appearance of the season Monday against Hamilton.