Fort Osage soccer coach Andrew Fletcher would prefer his boys not make games so interesting toward the end, but that doesn’t mean his confidence in them wanes.
Less than five minutes after Richmond Forbis gave the Indians a seemingly comfortable 2-0 lead in Tuesday’s Class 3 District 15 semifinal, North Kansas City made good on a rare ball into the box, cutting the margin in half.
But Fort Osage buckled down in the final 20 minutes, choked off any Northtown possessions and continued to serve wind-aided balls into Hornets territory to produce a 2-1 victory on its slick, soggy home pitch.
It’s the third time Fort Osage (15-6) has beaten Northtown (12-11) this season, with 1-0 and 2-1 victories in conference play. The Indians will host Liberty, which ousted William Chrisman 5-0 in the first semifinal, in Thursday’s district final.
“I’m a little disappointed we let them back in the game, but that happens a lot with us,” Fletcher said. “North Kansas City’s a good side, and it’s hard to beat a team three times.
“I still can’t figure out what happened there, so we’ll get that figured out,” he added of the Hornets' goal, which came from Antonio Hernandez Cruz off a Marcos Mazariegos assist. “Even after that we had more chances than they did.”
Hayden Baumgartner nearly made it 3-1 in the 71st minute when his 25-yarder glanced high off the crossbar. But the Hornets’ rally was stifled with 4:12 left, when amongst a flurry of late-game yellow cards Mazariegos received a red-card ejection for expressing his displeasure too vehemently.
Matt Summey made three saves in goal for the Indians and added a leaping punchout late in the second half to help preserve the lead. Summey also survived a first half during which his goal kicks met a stiff wind from the south, not to mention the on-and-off rain that helped make footing tenuous at times.
Despite playing into the wind Fort Osage controlled the midfield and had a 10-3 advantage in shots. Pier Cassiraghi’s shot after Forbis’ steal and through-pass bounced off the left post in the early going, and C.J. Chavez’s 25-yarder sailed a foot high in the 35th minute, seemingly leading to a scoreless first half.
But in the final minute Forbis got a pass through to Cassiraghi speeding past defenders on the right side, and Cassiraghi blasted a 20-yarder past Josh Folken to put the Indians ahead.
“It felt pretty good. It gave us a lot of momentum going into halftime,” said Cassiraghi, who had to sit for a spell in the first half for his own yellow card.
Despite the near misses in the less-than-ideal playing conditions, Cassiraghi said the Indians weren’t pressing as halftime neared.
“That’s just how it goes; you’ve got to keep hoping,” he said. “We possessed the ball good, but definitely the weather made a big changeup in our game.”
Less than five minutes into the second half, it was Forbis’ turn to strike. He stole an attempted pass wide in the Hornets backfield, leaving him one-on-one with the goalie from the right wing – an easy conversion to the far post.
“We had some chances,” Fletcher said. “Even though we were against the wind, we were little unlucky. The second goal was a little more important.
“We pretty much controlled play, and about the only good chance they had was when they scored. I don’t think anybody could say we didn’t deserve to win.”
LIBERTY 5, WILLIAM CHRISMAN 0: Chrisman coach John Straub said the final score was not a good testament to how the Bears played in their final game of the season, since they were down a man nearly the whole game and Liberty scored four goals in the last 14 minutes.
“The boys played pretty well today,” Straub said. “The last 10 minutes we kind of broke down a little bit.”
Midfielder Michael Scherer received a red-card ejection in the second minute for foul language after a non-call, but Chrisman (5-15) managed to keep Liberty (11-11) off the board until Adam Poliot’s goal in the 30th minute.
“I wasn’t quite prepared for that, but the boys adapted and we adjusted,” Straub said of the red card. “They played about as well as they could have.”
A dogged effort by goalkeeper Andrew Wayman and Co. kept the score at 1-0 until Logan Miller scored off a crossing pass with 13:42 left in the second half. Aaron Bass converted a turnover five minutes later to make it 3-0, and Bryant Bennett and Charlie Raasch added late goals for the Blue Jays.