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Chillicothe HS Soccer Hornet Shut Out KC: St. Pius X 5-0; Volleyball Girls Fall 3-0

Hornets dominate reportedly-shorthanded foe with whom it shared MEC title last year

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Having smartly anticipated that teammate Mason Baxter would win a battle for the ball along the end line to the left of the Kansas City: St. Pius X goal and direct a crossing pass into the goalmouth area, Chillicothe (Mo.) HS soccer Hornet Drake Cosgrove, coming from the opposite side of the pitch, intersects Baxter’s pass as the SPX goalkeeper moves with the ball’s path to his left and, using his right knee, prepares to redirect the ball slowly back to the ’keeper’s right and into the Warriors net for the first goal of Thursday’s (Oct. 8, 2020) history-making 5-0 Chillicothe home win. It’s the CHS boys’ first-ever regular-season win over the KC school’s team and first any time since beating the Warriors in the 2012 district tournament. ( C-T Photo / Paul Sturm )
  • Two goals each by Cosgrove, Chace Corbin
  • Fourth shutout of 2020 for Albertson, Hornets
The double-block “wall” put up by Chillicothe (Mo.) HS volleyball Lady Hornets sophomore Anna Fischer (nearest camera at right) and freshman Delanie Kieffer (partially obscured behind Fischer) forces a Savannah player’s spike attempt to sail wide of the far sideline, giving CHS a point and the serve during Thursday’s Savannah straight-games win in Chillicothe  ( C-T Photo / Paul Sturm )
As Chillicothe (Mo.) HS soccer Hornets senior back Dalton Ripley puts his foot to a direct free kick 55 yards from the Kansas City: St. Pius X goal late in the first half of the teams’ Midland Empire Conference match in Chillicothe Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, several SPX players visible in the background seem relaxed and unconcerned about the situation. They should have been, as it turned out. Ripley’s long drive sailed right toward them, but CHS teammate Mason Baxter (13), also seen in the background got to it first, deflecting it past them to where Drake Cosgrove could come over and score his second goal of the match and eighth of the season in the 33rd minute. That gave Chillicothe a 2-0 lead, to which the Hornets would add only a minute later and eventually build into a 5-0 winning margin. ( C-T Photo / Paul Sturm )
Having made a good play to take possession of the ball far out from his team’ goal, sophomore middle back Wyatt Brandsgaard of the 2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS soccer Hornets begins a counterattacking run during the first half of Thursday’s (Oct. 8) home match against perennial power Kansas City: St. Pius X. With Brandsgaard playing what head coach Tim Cunningham acknowledged as “really well” as part of a “solid” team defensive showing collectively all match – a continuation of its recent strong play, the coach noted, the Hornets shut out the Warriors 5-0. The teams were co-champions of the Midland Empire Conference last year before SPX dominated a state-tournament battle between them.  ( C-T Photo / Paul Sturm )

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

The Chillicothe (Mo.) HS soccer Hornets won their first-ever meeting with Kansas City: St. Pius X in the 2012 district playoffs when now-veteran assistant coach Jimmy Chapman was one of the seniors on then-second-year head coach Tim Cunningham’s 18-4 squad.

Since then, the programs had squared off five more times, including their only two regular-season meetings the past two years after SPX’s entrance into the Midland Empire Conference. On none of those occasions had the Hornets repeated their original success, including last year when Chillicothe and the north Kansas City Catholic school ultimately split the MEC title.

Until late Thursday afternoon.

Possibly through some extenuating circumstances – a common theme in 2020 Missouri high school fall sports, the Hornets decisively set the pace from start to finish in their battle with the Warriors at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II and, when they walked off Bob Fairchild Field after a performance as sterling as the mid-fall weather conditions, they possessed their first-ever regular-season and MEC triumph over St. Pius X, prevailing 5-0.

“I am just so proud of how hard our guys competed and how well we are playing,” CHS coach Tim Cunningham commented after his squad’s fourth victory in a row and third-straight over a recent or long-term tormentor.

The triumph lifted the Hornets’ overall record to 5-3 and their league ledger to 2-3.

There was scuttlebutt circulating that the KC club was missing some players, due to COVID-19 quarantining, and the visitors did indeed lack a sufficient number of players in uniform to field a squad for a planned junior-varsity match, but Cunningham shared that the only confirmed Warriors absence of which he was aware was the starting goaltender being sidelined after sustaining an injury in the team’s practice on Wednesday.

Regardless of where St. Pius X stood, manpower-wise, Chillicothe still has the landmark win in its books now – and it came both decisively and impressively.

While the Warriors’ attack still looked viable and capable of producing goals, Chillicothe’s backfield, while scrambling a bit a couple of times, more often than not maintained good positioning and exercised good skill to defuse most of the SPX thrusts.

Although he did have to make one outstanding, sprawling stop inside the last 10 minutes, the CHS backs’ and midfielders’ hustle and solid, coordinated play allowed junior goalkeeper Jaxon Albertson to record his fourth shutout of the season while making only two saves.

At the other end, Chillicothe put and kept pressure on the St. Pius X defense and backup goalkeeper almost start to finish and found the back of the net five times with a few other great chances being missed.

Although they didn’t know or expect it, the Hornets posted the only goal they’d need midway through the first half with some great passing, ball recovery work, and anticipation.

Having already found some chinks in the usually-nearly-impregnable Warriors’ defense, CHS tested it again by getting the ball deep into the SPX defensive third of the pitch.

After an initial passing play to try to spring dangerous senior Mason Baxter free for a shot inside the St. Pius X “18” (penalty area) just failed to click, the speedy Hornet chased after the ball to the offensive left of the goal. Winning it back, he slipped by the defender trying to deny him and, from near the goal line, struck a low crossing pass to the goalmouth area.

Smartly anticipating that his teammate might come up with the ball, junior forward Drake Cosgrove lurked on the far side of the goal, about 10 yards out until he saw Baxter make that possibility real. As soon as he saw his fellow forward with the ball on his foot and space to make a play, Cosgrove accelerated on a right-to-left angle toward the net front from out of the goalkeeper’s peripheral vision.

With the inexperienced netminder having to stay close to his line and toward the right (from the defensive perspective) goalpost, when Baxter fired his approximately-chest-high drive toward the area about five yards out from the goal line, the SPX goalkeeper didn’t have time to try to move out and catch it or deflect it away. Instead, he had to react to the possibility that the ball was headed to a Hornet at the opposite side of the goal for a possible weak-side tap-in into the open side.

However, as the ’keeper began scurrying to his left, Cosgrove, who had been on that opposite side, instead was moving to his left and toward the goal, allowing him to intersect the ball’s low flight path about in the middle of the goalkeeper’s box. Lifting his right leg as he jumped slightly on the run, Cosgrove caught the ball against the inside of his right knee, slowing it considerably as he reversed its course. Caught going the wrong way by the redirection, the goalkeeper could only watch helplessly as the ball dribbled rather slowly across his line and into the net to his right for the first tally of the match.

Cosgrove’s team-leading seventh goal of the season off Baxter’s sixth assist came 19:33 into the match.

Their confidence level growing minute by minute, the Hornets continued to press the attack.

With a series of fine moves, Cosgrove found himself 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper from about 10 yards, but at a sharp angle on the offensive right side. He unleashed a hard shot, trying to slip it between the netminder and the post, but the SPX ’keeper got enough of his left hand on it to deflect against the outside of the goalpost and beyond the end line.

Several minutes later, with play in the middle third of the pitch, but the Hornets trying to formulate another attack, the ball was deflected off a SPX player’s left hand. Because of the referee’s viewing angle from the middle of the field and possibly because other players were between him and the ball, no infraction was whistled. However, as St. Pius X gained control of the ball and started to try to move toward the CHS end, the Chillicothe coaches verbally alerted the main official to the fact that the sideline official/lineswoman near where the illegal touch had occurred had spied it and had her flag indicating the need for play to be stopped upraised. Looking to confirm the CHS contention, the referee whistled play down and awarded the Hornets a direct free kick.

Given that the spot of the kick would be a hefty 55 yards from the St. Pius X goal, the situation didn’t shape up as a huge scoring threat, but senior back/sweeper Dalton Ripley, who had scored on a 45-yards direct free kick earlier in the week, made it pay dividends anyway.

With a strong, right-footed swipe, Ripley soared the ball perhaps about 15-20 feet into the air at its zenith, sailing it diagonally across the midfield toward the penalty area near the right post of the SPX goal. Baxter and another teammate, along with a couple of Warriors were in that area and it was the quick, high jumping Baxter who got first touch on it. Although he couldn’t control it, he managed to deflect it a bit closer to the net, where Coagrove charged in to fight for possession with a SPX defender only about eight yards from the goal.

After Cosgrove got one swing of his right leg at the ball and had it strike the defender, the ball came right back to him. With the defender off-balance, the Hornet touched it by him just enough to get another quick stab at the ball. This time, from only about five yards away, he got it past the frozen goalkeeper for a 2-0 CHS lead at 33:06 of the match.

With Cosgrove’s second of the day and eighth of the year in the books, the immediate anticipation was that preserving the 2-goals advantage the rest of the half would give the hosts strong momentum to carry into the second half. However, that line of thinking among Chillicothe fans soon proved short-sighted.

Less than a minute later, another scoring threat led to SPX sending the ball over its own end line, allowing Chillicothe its second or third corner kick of the match. This one paid off.

From the offensive right corner, Cosgrove chipped a line drive into the goalmouth area at the near post. With St. Pius X wary of Baxter, who has 45 career goals, getting a chance to head it, the Warriors had a couple of players shadowing him. However, as the ball seemed headed toward Baxter, either by design or simply getting a better read on its flightpath, junior midfield Chace Corbin flashed just in front of Baxter and the Warriors working to deny him and, getting his own head on the ball with a leap, knocked it cleanly into the net. Only 63 ticks after Cosgrove had made it 2-nil, Ch. Corbin’s fifth goal of the year and third in three matches had given the Hornets a 3-0 lead to enjoy at intermission.

Barring a severe mental letdown, Chillicothe looked to have the wherewithal to protect that nice margin. Not only did it protect it, it added on.

Not quite 15 minutes into the second half, a borderline offside call on SPX that negated a goal it seemed to have scored meant another direct free kick by Ripley going the other way. With the ball some 85 yards away from their net, the Warriors seemed to anticipate the kick restarting play would land somewhere just on their half of the pitch.

Instead, when the heavy-footed senior nailed the ball high and far, it carried approximately 50 yards in the air, sailing over the back line of SPX players and bouncing farther down the artificial surface. Because they realized late that the ball would go beyond them, the Warriors found Ch. Corbin’s anticipation of the power of Ripley’s believe-it-or-not boot allowing the offensive midfielder to win the race to the ball and collect it about 25-30 yards from the St. Pius X goal.

In a 1-on-1 showdown with the backup goalkeeper, who opted to come out and try to narrow the Hornets’ shooting angle, Ch. Corbin had little problem striking it past him and into the gaping goal at 54:19. For his second key free-kick effort of the match, Ripley picked up his first assist of the season on his teammate’s sixth goal.

Thanks to Albertson’s one big save inside the last 10 minutes, the match looked to be headed toward a 4-0 final, but, with 61 seconds left, out of a scramble in the SPX “18,” Ch. Corbin got the ball into the path of senior reserve Caleb Vance, who drove it home for his second goal of the season and Ch. Corbin’s second helper of 2020.

Chillicothe’s booters will tote their 4-matches winning streak back into action next Tuesday, supposedly, when they are due to host St. Joseph: Lafayette at Litton Stadium at 5 p.m.

With teammates Maya Snyder (nearest camera), Delanie Kieffer (right), and Trista Tipton (behind Snyder) nearby, if needed, Chillicothe (Mo.) HS sophomore MaKayla Vance bumps a Savannah serve during Thursday’s (Oct. 8, 2020) CHS home volleyball match. Receiving serves effectively proved to be a persistent, periodic problem for the Lady Hornets as they lost the contest in straight games. ( C-T Photo / Paul Sturm )

Volleyball Lady Hornets swept in return to MEC play

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — A return to Midland Empire Conference competition Thursday (Oct. 8) didn’t prove to be what the doctor ordered for the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS volleyball Lady Hornets’ health.

Suffering familiar mid-game lulls again – this time in each game, the Lady Hornets (5-6, 0-4 conf.) saw their modest 2-matches winning streak end in a straight-games 11-25, 17-25, 18-25 MEC loss to visiting Savannah.

After being close or at least in contention about 15 points into each game, Chillicothe either did not sustain its level of play or raise it to match an elevation from the Lady Savages. That allowed the guests to open leads of about 6-8 points in each game and, even though CHS did eventually steady itself in the last two games, the eventual result of each never came into serious doubt.

Chillicothe had its chances hurt when junior Essie Hicks, one of its most-effective players of late, sustained a finger, hand, or wrist injury as she lunged forward to the court to try to handle a sinking SHS hit about a dozen points into game one. She eventually returned to some action, but appeared still hampered and in pain.

Statistically for the Lady Hornets, freshman Delanie Kieffer led the floor defense with nine “digs,” while senior Maya Snyder had seven plus a modest, team-lead-sharing (with Jessica Reeter) four assists. Junior Gracie West paced the net offense with five “kills” (spikes) and sophomore Reeter served four winning points. Sophomore Trista Tipton chipped in another five “digs” against the smooth-operating Savannah offense.

Senior Maya Snyder (nearest camera and junior Gracie West go up to block a Savannah spike attempt during Thursday’s Midland Empire Conference match in Chillicothe. Savannah won in 3-straight games. ( C-T Photo / Paul Sturm )

In development-level play, the visitors also held sway. In the junior-varsity action, Chillicothe lost 7-25, 18-25, getting five assists and three ‘kills” from Halle Hill and three “kills” from Tipton, after the frosh/“C” Lady Hornets succumbed 22-25, 10-25. Maci Johnson was CHS’ best player in that match, CHS coach Bob Long indicated.

The Chillicothe spikers are to visit Hamilton Monday.