Despite Heroic Goalkeeping by Foe, Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Soccer Lady Hornets Post 5-0 Home Win

Hornets golfers eke out 1-stroke win in double-dual sweep in 2021 debut; tennis boys fall 2-7

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
As she did time and time again against less-experienced foe Mid-Buchanan Wednesday, Chillicothe High School soccer Lady Hornets ace scorer Lucy Reeter uses her speed, shiftiness, and footwork to dance through or around MBHS defenders late in the first half of CHS' 5-0 victory. On this occasion, Reeter's effort paid off in the first of her three goals on the day, making Chillicothe's lead 2-0 at 38:08 of the match.

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

If not for sophomore goalkeeper Mallie Lieffring, the second match ever for the Mid-Buchanan High School soccer Lady Dragons likely would have lasted a good bit less than the scheduled 80 minutes.

Chillicothe Lady Hornets junior Lucy Reeter, already owner of one CHS goal-scoring record in her lone previous season, might have carved her name onto the top line of another mark in the Lady Hornets’ record book, but for Lieffring’s stand-your-ground excellence protecting the MBHS net.

Even though she posted a 3-goals “hat trick” to highlight Chillicothe’s 5-0 home victory, Reeter had at least twice that many prime-quality opportunities to find the back of the net. Most of them were repelled by Lieffring’s stalwart command of her goal line and excellent positioning that seemed to draw most of CHS’ dozen-plus shots right toward her, as if pulled by magnetic forces.

Given the close distances from which Reeter pulled the trigger time and again, the swift junior who shattered program legend Lindy Saunders’ mark for goals by a freshman (12) when she fired home 19 in 2019 fairly easily could have equaled or surpassed Rochelle “Rock” Gillilan’s April 2009 single-match record of five goals, but for the Lady Dragons ’keeper’s stonewalling her time and time again, either by stopping a shot or by “playing the angle” to influence Reeter to send her shot wide of the goal.

While Reeter was her most frequent victim, Lieffring didn’t neglect other Lady Hornets, making multiple other top-drawer saves to prevent the match from ending prematurely on the 10-goals lead “mercy rule.”

Each of those saves was needed since the fledgling MBHS squad was unable to generate even one shot on goal on the evening – including the 2-0 junior-varsity match.

Without having to make even one stop, CHS junior goalkeeper Allie Italiano picked up her second save in as many appearances. She blanked Kirksville two nights earlier in a 1-0 victory.

Improving to 2-1 – all in non-conference action, the soccer Lady Hornets will be idle from game action until facing traditional powerhouse St. Pius X at Kansas City next Tuesday (March 30).

“Our girls played really hard, set the tempo, and played our game very well,” first-year Chillicothe head coach Jimmy Chapman commented for local media after the second-straight CHS triumph.

Given the inexperience of the Mid-Buchanan squad, some of which presumably have participated in the sport in youth and winter leagues at nearby St. Joseph, Wednesday’s match – a relatively-late addition to Chillicothe’s schedule – hinted at likely being one-sided and it was, except for Lieffring’s heroics.

The ball was on the Chillicothe offensive half of the pitch a good three-fourths of the time from start to finish and the eventual outcome was never in much doubt.

Twice in the first dozen minutes, Reeter got within 10 yards of the MBHS goal for 1-on-1 shots against the netminder, only to have both turned aside. Twice more in the next 12 or 13 minutes, in similar showdowns, Lieffring’s calm, patient style prompted Reeter to send shots wide of each goalpost from close range.

After Lady Hornets teammate Juliann Gabrielson experienced a similar fate against the Lady Dragons backstop in the 15th minute, pulling her shot from about eight yards away wide of the right post, Reeter’s choice to turn playmaker finally solved the Lieffring puzzle.

Getting possession of the ball in the middle of the pitch about 40 yards from the “Mid-Buck” goal, the speedy junior zipped straight toward the goal, dribbling past a couple of slower defenders until she got within about 25 yards.

Veering slightly to her left to evade another Lady Dragon, Reeter realized the sweeper still ahead of her and just into the MBHS “18” and another closing in from her right would make continuing a solo effort unlikely to be productive. However, in a combination of good awareness and communication from teammates, Reeter touched the ball between those two defenders just as they converged on her, allowing accelerating junior forward Allison Ishmael to burst past, gather the ball inside the penalty area, and trigger a low shot past the goalkeeper for the contest’s first goal at the 20:50 mark.

Although play continued to hover incessantly in Chillicothe’s offensive third of the pitch, it appeared the strong goalkeeping was going to send the match to the second half with the result very much subject to doubt before a quick counter-strike by the Lady Hornets doubled their lead in the late going of the opening 40 minutes.

As the Lady Dragons made a throw-in from the west sideline of Bob Fairchild Field, deep in their own territory, the ball went into open space where CHS freshman wing back Rylee Washburn moved forward to collect it.

She directed the ball quickly ahead to Reeter in the middle. Catching the “Mid-Buck” defense stretched out a bit by the throw-in, the CHS junior used her speed and elusiveness to slip past a couple into the clear and finally fire a drive Lieffring could not rebuff. With only 1:52 remaining in the half, Chillicothe had gained a 2-0 margin.

With Mid-Buchanan’s inability to assimilate an assault on net even on those limited occasions when it got the ball deep into CHS territory, the 2-goals lead looked likely decisive as the last segment began. When the Lady Hornets made a fairly-early strike in the second half, they had full command.

With Chillicothe attacking and Reeter with the ball on the right side near the MBHS “18” (18-yards deep penalty area), multiple Lady Dragons defenders understandably converged on her.

When they did, she quickly circled back and slid the ball into the vacant middle about 30-35 yards out from the goal where senior midfielder Julia Stimpson was alone. Smartly, Stimpson dribbled forward several yards to attract a foe or two before slipping the ball past them at a measured pace to prevent Lieffring from having a clear chance to get to it first.

Instead, Gabrielson angled in from her left forward spot to get to the ball about 15 yards away from the goal. With Lieffring caught in-between, the Chillicothe sophomore had little difficulty delivering an unguarded shot which zipped into the net for a 3-0 lead at 45:51 of the match.

The only uncertainty of the remainder of the play was whether Mid-Buchanan – especially its netminder – would have a letdown at effectively being out of contention to win and be overwhelmed by the insistent CHS attack. The Lady Dragons did not.

The next dozen-plus minutes passed scorelessly before Reeter, accepting a pass through from Gabrielson who was relaying the ball from sophomore Skyler Powers near the offensive left sideline, made a quick reverse spin away from the goal to buy a bit of time and space before driving a right-footed shot over and past Lieffring from about 14 yards at 59:09.

The score stayed 4-0 nearly 18 minutes before, exactly three minutes from the final whistle, Reeter completed her “hat trick” by beating her nemesis to the short side, just inside the left goalpost, from only about eight yards away.

That came after an unimpeded run of about 50 yards up the right side by the CHS forward. She was sprung free for that long trek – Gabrielson’s presence ahead of her kept the single MBHS player between them and the net occupied – by a beautiful chip pass from senior back Chloe Funk from 10-15 yards on her own side of midfield over the head of the outside left back for Mid-Buchanan, allowing Reeter to zip to it with clear field ahead. As with Washburn’s, Ishmael’s, Reeter’s and Stimpson’s earlier helpers, it was Funk’s first assist of the season. For Reeter, it was her fourth 2021 goal.

BOYS’ GOLF

CAMERON — Making every last swing of the club count meant the difference between a split and the sweep of the season-opening dual the 2021 Chillicothe High School golf Hornets posted Wednesday.

Facing both Lawson and the host Dragons on Cameron’s Veterans Memorial Golf Course in overcast, coolish conditions with a course softened by extensive rain a day earlier, the Hornets edged Cameron in the Missouri high school team golf equivalent of overtime, while besting Lawson more handily.

Both Chillicothe and Cameron generated a low-4 team score of 186, leaving their dual to be determined by the scores of their fifth individuals, Hornets coach Jim Wheeler reports.

In this instance, Chillicothe senior Dalton Ripley, slotted fifth in the Hornets’ lineup, completed his nine holes in 55 strokes, one less than the No. 4 guy in the Dragons’.

Lawson trailed each with is 204, even though the Cardinals had the match medalist in No. 1 player Jack Evans. He posted a sharp 40, one shot better than Cameron’s No. 1 player, Brady Stice.

While Chillicothe didn’t have that individual excellence from any individual, it did show encouraging balance and prospered, team-wise, for it.

Slotted No. 2 in the Hornets’ lineup based on preseason scoring averages in challenge rounds, Colby Gillespie – Chillicothe’s top player in the most-recent (2019) season – toured the Veterans Course in 45 shots, only one shot less than freshmen James Mathew and Jackson Trout each used in their high school competition debuts.

Rounding out the Hornets’ low-4 group was No. 1 player Spencer Shira, who came around in 49.

While Chillicothe placed four players in the 40s, neither of the opposing squads had more than two.

Adding further encouragement to the Hornets’ showing in their first outing was the 53 – two shots better than Ripley’s decisive 55 – by a third ninth grader, Tyler Stephens.

Next on the Chillicothe golfers’ slate is due to be a home rematch with Cameron next Tuesday.

BOYS’ TENNIS

CARROLLTON — With every member of the fully-overhauled Chillicothe High tennis Hornets making their varsity-level competition debut, the Hornets dropped a 7-2 decision to the host Carrollton Trojans Wednesday in a match more competitive than the final team score suggests.

Four of the seven Trojans set wins came by either an 8-5 or 8-6 margin, meaning a swing of a few points here or there could have led to a 5-4 final count either team’s way.

Two of the Hornets’ racquet rookies – juniors Chace Corbin and Emmett Young – emerged with victories in singles play.

Corbin took the No. 1 set 8-4 over Carrollton senior Luke Davis, the Trojans’ No. 2 player during the most-recent season (2019), Chillicothe coach Bob Long noted.

Young and Corey Terryberry of Carrollton were tied 4-4 midway through the No. 5 singles set when Young found a groove and reeled off three winning games in succession, Long reports. When they split the next two, the set was Young’s, 8-5.

Although Carrollton swept the opening doubles play to put Chillicothe in a tough, 0-3 spot, the Hornets were highly competitive in each of those sets.

At No. 1, Davis and Charlie Wohlgemuth of the hosts fended off Ch. Corbin and Gabe Peterson 8-5, the same count by which CHS’ Shayden Hawkins and Young dropped the No. 3 set.

At No. 2 doubles, Caleb Corbin and Carter Allen paired for the Hornets to be right in it for a win until the final point, losing the set 6-8.

In the singles that followed, Ca. Corbin took a 3-8 loss at No. 2 slot, Allen a 5-8 setback at No. 3, and Peterson a 4-8 defeat at No. 4. At No. 6, Hawkins also fell 4-8.

Chillicothe’s tennis boys are scheduled to begin Midland Empire Conference team play Thursday (March 25) at Savannah.

Speaking of MEC team competition, St. Joseph: Lafayette school officials notified other conference schools Wednesday that it would not have a boys’ tennis team this season, due to lack of sufficient prospect turnout.