CHS soccer Lady Hornets fall to Maryville comeback

Visiting top seed wrests away Class 2 District 8 championship state berth Thursday with two second-half goals

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
  • Chillicothe finishes 2021 season 15-8, its third-straight 15-wins year

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

Like wind and water eroding rock, the top-seeded Maryville High School soccer Lady Hornets kept buffeting and abrading the host Chillicothe Lady Hornets’ defense almost constantly through the second half of their Class 2 District 8 championship match at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II Thursday evening.

Eventually, the Lady ’Hounds wore enough of a hole in CHS’ efforts to repel them to erase the 1-0 lead the Lady Hornets had gained on Sophia Luetticke’s goal late in the opening half. Then, finally, they undercut Chillicothe’s back-line support with their disciplined attack and, with less than 12 minutes remaining, delivered the knockout blow to the game Lady Hornets’ upset hopes.

Drilling iron three or four times in the match – clanging shot attempts off either a goalpost or the crossbar, Maryville finally learned its lesson and reaped the rewards it sought by targeting the middle of the Chillicothe goal.

In the 16th minute of the second half, a MHS crossing pass from its right side eventually skittered free from a scramble to wing midfielder Kennedy Kurz. From less than 10 yards away in front of the Chillicothe net, she pumped a low shot which caught Chillicothe goalkeeper Allie Italiano’s momentum still going toward the right side of the CHS goal. Unable to react and dive back to her left, the ball crossed the goal line at 54:14 of the match, matching Luetticke’s scoring header off Lucy Reeter’s right-side corner kick only 3:59 before halftime.

The match all square again, Maryville’s style – featuring a solid foundation of ball control, passing, spacing, and physical play – kept the ball on its attacking end of Bob Fairchild Field about 90% of the time after intermission. The constant pressure eventually produced a chance the visitors cashed in.

With the match just into its final 16 minutes and following about three minutes of heavy rain that was played through uninterrupted and without noticeable adverse effect on the artificial turf, MHS hit the right goalpost of the CHS net for a second time in the half as it bid to move ahead. About a minute later, off a cross from deep on the offensive left side, another Lady Spoofhound sent a header toward the net and seeming the crossbar that a leaping Italiano’s fingers tipped just over it, keeping the score at 1-1.

However, late in the 67th minute, with Chillicothe unable to gain enough control of the ball in the field, even on its multiple goal kicks, Maryville got a right-side throw-in about midway between midfield and the CHS goal line.

Off the throw-in, the No. 1 seed – a 5-1 winner over Chillicothe at Maryville only about a week earlier – smoothly maneuvered the ball along that side to within about 20 yards of the end line. From there, a pass was chipped toward the middle of the pitch where a player or two from each side were positioned.

Battling each other, none of them could get a clean touch on the ball. Finally, it squirted out of that pack even more toward the center of the pitch where, with Maryville’s taut positioning discipline, a Lady ’Hound waited.

The player turned out to be MHS’ most-dangerous scorer, junior Arianne Skidmore, who had tallied twice in the prior match at Maryville.

Just beyond the top of the CHS “18” (18-yards-deep penalty area), Skidmore strode into the ball and triggered a left-footed shot from 20 yards away. Although she did not get a lot of velocity on the shot, the MHS player did – as Kurz had earlier – fire it toward more or less the middle of the goal. Once more, her momentum going left to right as she followed the prior movement of the ball, the Chillicothe goalkeeping standout could not react quickly enough to lunge back to her left to get to the shot. With only 11:52 to play, Maryville had reversed its 1-goal halftime deficit and a clear path to the district title and accompanying pass to state play.

Rather than alter its clearly-dominant attacking approach to a more-passive, protective on, Maryville continued to get the most and cleanest touches over the remainder of the match, its positional structure allowing it to keep CHS hemmed in its end while still having four Lady Spoofhounds defenders around midfield and the goalkeeper still back protecting the net.

With the Lady Hornets’ attack largely consisting of attempting long transitional kicks from well on its own half of the pitch over the heads of the MHS backs in the hope of CHS forwards winning races to the ball or forcing a giveaway, the positional integrity and ballhandling and passing control exhibited by the foe made for few Chillicothe scoring chances.

In fact, probably “out-chanced” by at least a 5-to-1 ratio, if not higher, through the match, the only legitimate scoring opportunity for the home team after halftime was one which would have doubled its lead. If successful, it might have heightened the tension on Maryville and reduced the measured control and efficiency with which it played from start to finish.

Only a couple of minutes into the second half, with CHS still riding the crest of the emotional boost it had received from Luetticke’s tally shortly before intermission, a MHS back had the ball about 20 yards shy of midfield in the center of the field.

As she tried to pass it ahead, however, an onrushing Reeter leaped and blocked the pass with her body, sending the ball backward beyond the MHS defender, allowing the CHS scoring ace to chase it down and have no one between herself the goalkeeper about 35 yards away.

With two foes in hot pursuit, the now-owner of most of Chillicothe’s scoring records touched the ball ahead several times, angling slightly toward open field to her right to buy additional time.

Finally, as the netminder moved about eight to 10 yards off her goal line to reduce Reeter’s shooting angle, before the trailing defenders could overtake her, the CHS player measured her steps and tried a shot from 20 yards away.

Seemingly aiming back to her left toward the right side of the MHS goal, Reeter fired a decent shot, but not her hardest and had it essentially go right at the ’keeper at around chest level for a simple save. Chillicothe would not get another shot on goal the remaining 37-plus minutes and only rarely had touches inside the attacking third of the pitch.

The outcome shuttered another very, very good CHS girls’ season with a won-lost record of a sharp 15-8. That’s six years in a row (dating back to 2014, due to there being no 2020 campaign) with a winning ledger and a third-straight of 15 victories. It also was a third-straight appearance in the district-championship match, including 2019’s victory (before Maryville eliminated the Lady Hornets in the first round of state play).

What the just-ended season will most be recalled for was the onslaught on the program’s offensive records book, both team-wise and individually.

With back Luetticke’s impressive fifth goal of the season, the 2021 Chillicothe team finished with 73 goals scored, seven more than its previous high for a season.

Individually, Reeter shredded the scoring standards list, setting new marks for goals in a match (six) and season (28), most assists in a season (21), and most offensive “points” (two points for each goal, one for each assist) with 77.

While not quite reaching the record total of 15 the 2019 squad had, the 1-0 overtime victory over Savannah in the district semifinals was the defense’s and Italiano’s 13th shutout of the year, second-most to the 2019 team.

With a high percentage of this year’s starting lineup being non-seniors – including anchors Reeter and Juliann Gabrielson at the forward position, backs Luetticke and Ellie Barnett, and goalkeeper Italiano – and multiple underclasswomen having performed well as reserves and seemingly primed to step into the few lineup vacancies, Chillicothe’s fütbol fortunes next spring look bright 10 months out.

However, with fellow Midland Empire Conference members Maryville and St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond coming off district championships, MEC champion and perennial pitch power Kansas City: St. Pius X, and increasingly-dangerous Savannah all having few seniors in their lineups this year, as well, being as good in 2022 won’t be any guarantee of superior results.