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Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Soccer Hornets Halt Saints’ Hex

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Chillicothe News

Two Chillicothe (Mo.) HS sports teams terminated trends – one long-term, one shorter – Thursday (Oct. 1, 2020).

The soccer Hornets had never tasted victory against the St. Paul Lutheran Saints from the Concordia boarding school since they began playing them annually in 2012 – until Thursday, when Chillicothe’s boys won for a third time this week, 3-1.

“What a great week for Chillicothe soccer!” celebrated Tim Cunningham, Hornets 10th-year head coach, in comments to local media after the win over the 2019 Class 1 state runnerup.

While the CHS booters were hitting a high note, the softball Lady Hornets’ 10-games winning streak reached its terminus when Macon’s 4-runs bottom of the fifth inning led to a 6-3 Tigerettes triumph.

Thursday also saw the three players currently in action for the CHS golf Lady Hornets playing in a 3-schools match at Lawson. According to Chillicothe coach Darren Smith, Lady Hornets Brooklyn Williams and Abbey Hayen both shot career-best rounds by far and finished second and tied for fourth among the apparently-small group competing. Top CHS player Hallie Jones had a match-best score of 45.

Soccer boys finally solve St. Paul Lutheran

CONCORDIA — Previously outscored 27-6 by St. Paul Lutheran as the Saints won the programs’ first eight meetings, Chillicothe rode a big 12-saves performance from junior goalkeeper Jaxon Albertson, strong midfield play – as cited by Cunningham, and goals from three different players to the historic triumph.

Chillicothe struck first not quite midway through the opening half. Junior midfielder Chace Corbin, for a second match in a row, put himself in the right place at the right time for a Hornets corner kick, depositing his varsity-career-most fourth goal of the season in the SPL net after Ben Cueni-Smith put the ball in play. The assist was Cueni-Smith’s fourth of the year.

As the first half began to draw toward its close, the host Saints’ Nathanom Philipos squared things at 1-1 in unassisted fashion in the 34th minute.

However, the Hornets didn’t settle for a halftime deadlock.

Pushing the attack only a couple of minutes after their original advantage vanished, the Hornets got a finish from their leading 2020 scorer off a setup from a reserve attacker.

In the 36th minute, Chillicothe moved back ahead at 2-1 when senior Caleb Vance provided the “helper” as junior Drake Cosgrove drove home his sixth goal of the season.

That’s where the score remained for just over 20 minutes. When it changed, it was the visitors who changed it, courtesy of a first-time varsity goal-scorer.

In the 58th minute, sophomore Gabe Hansen found the St. Paul Lutheran net for the initial time on the varsity level.

That boosted Chillicothe’s lead to two goals, no small matter for their confidence level, considering the only two times in the previous eight matches against the Concordia-based foe that the Hornets had created an opportunity for victory, it lost in overtime in 2015 and in a post-OT penalty-kicks shootout in 2013.

With the extra breathing room, the Hornets never could safely exhale until the final few seconds were ticking off the clock.

Albertson’s 12 saves are his most in a match this season. Unofficially, they might be the most ever by a CHS goalkeeper in a victory, although exact records are not available.

Cunningham, while summing up the performance as “a complete team effort from start to finish,” saluted the play of one group of Hornets as being critical, along with Albertson, to keeping the St. Paul Lutheran attack mostly neutralized and turning the ball back toward the CHS offensive end.

“Our midfield of Caleb Vance, Chace Corbin, and Sam Reeter controlled the pace of the match and helped create many scoring opportunities,” he praised.

As a reward for their landmark victory, the CHS team gets a week away from competition before another major challenge – hosting Kansas City: St. Pius X next Thursday. On its way to being Midland Empire Conference co-champion with SPX’s Warriors last year, the Hornets fell to them twice, including an 8-1 loss in the first round of the Class 2 state tournament.

Thursday’s competition at Concordia also included a junior-varsity match, which the home team took 2-1. The Chillicothe goal was scored by sophomore Sam Reeter.

Macon big inning derails Chillicothe on diamond

MACON — Using proven-capable backup pitchers Mollie Ellis and Halle Rucker, not nominal ace Kinlei Boley, against a strong-quality, non-conference opponent on the road, the Chillicothe softball Lady Hornets saw their 10-games winning streak reach an end Thursday in a 6-3 loss at Macon.

“They are a very solid team with good pitching and solid defense,” commented Lee Rucker, CHS head coach, concerning Macon.

Chillicothe scored a run in the first inning, which the Tigerettes, in unearned fashion, quickly matched. The 1-1 tie lasted until the bottom of the fifth.

In the MHS fifth, a 1-out CHS error set up a game-deciding 4-runs, 2-outs Macon rally, mostly off Ellis (3-1).

With two outs and the runner who reached on the Chillicothe miscue at second base, back-to-back singles by the Tigerettes’ Nos. 9 and 1 batters snapped the deadlock. With those players still on base, a 3-runs home run followed, putting the Lady Hornets in a 5-1 hole.

After a scoreless CHS sixth, a leadoff walk was developed into another Tigerettes run, leaving the Lady Hornets down by five.

Their long winning streak hanging by a thread, Chillicothe attempted to keep it intact.

Bre Pithan smacked a 1-out double to right-center field – her second hit of the game – and, with two down, Sophia Luetticke’s own 2-bagger brought home a second CHS run. A Hope Helton single left runners at the corners.

Boley pulled a RBI hit to left field to make it 6-3 and bring power threat junior Mika Hibner to the plate representing the tying run. However, on a 1-2 pitch, Hibner hit the ball back to the MHS pitcher for the game-ending out.

Statistically, Chillicothe out-hit Macon 9-6, but was undermined by its three errors, while MHS was flawless in the field.

“We outhit them but just left too many runners stranded,” coach Rucker detailed.

Of CHS’ nine hits, four came from Luetticke in addition to Pithan’s two. For Luetticke, the junior center field and lineup leadoff hitter’s perfect day at the dish leaves her with 22 hits in her 29 most-recent official at-bats. That is a nearly-incomprehensible .759 average in that stretch of about six games.

The softball Lady Hornets next are due to visit St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond for Midland Empire Conference action Monday.

Williams, Hayen enjoy big day on Lawson links

LAWSON — Two of the three Chillicothe High golf Lady Hornets who participated in competition at Lawson’s Hidden Valley Golf Course shot best-ever rounds by wide, wide margins.

CHS juniors Brooklyn Williams and Abbey Hayen each shot more than 10 strokes below their preceding season averages as they carded 9-holes rounds of 46 and 52, respectively.

Williams, a second-year player, previously had peaked – in terms of a personal-best score - with a 53. That came her previous time out.

Hayen, a first-year player, had a prior best of 57, achieved twice.

Williams’ round was second among Thursday’s players to senior teammate Hallie Jones’ 45. Counterintuitively, that equaled Jones’ highest score of the season. Hayen tied for fourth place.

The action also involved players from Lawson and Hamilton, but the report received did not indicate how many competitors there were from each of those schools. Lawson’s Elli Smith had out-shot Jones by several strokes to be the medalist in the Chillicothe Invitational Tournament.

The next scheduled competition for Chillicothe is set for next Wednesday when the rescheduled Midland Empire Conference Championship is to take place at St. Joseph’s Fairview Golf Course.