The focus of Fort Osage’s girls soccer practice Thursday translated into goals Friday, when the Indians downed visiting Grain Valley 3-1 in non-conference play.
“We really stressed pushing up the field, closing people down quickly – and we did that really well today,” Fort Osage coach Andrew Fletcher said. “And then when we do that, we get the ball in the offensive half of the field. We’ve got some really good forwards and good midfield players, so if we win the ball high up the field, then we can create those chances.”
Indians sophomore forward Aspen O’Neal, who contributed a goal, suggested the reason Fort Osage (2-1) focused on pushing numbers forward during Thursday’s practice was because of the tendencies of Friday’s opponent.
“At practice, we look at ... opponents and we look at what they do – and obviously, these Grain Valley Eagles ... push up (the field),” O’Neal said. “So if we go forward, that means we’ll get the win.”
The Indians saw payoffs to Thursday’s focus during the first 20 minutes Friday, as Marina Rios and Kelsi Schaberg scored a goal apiece. Samantha Berg’s goal in the 23rd minute cut it to 2-1 for Grain Valley (1-2).
“We definitely came out a little bit flat, and so, when she scored, I think that it created a little bit of a spark there in the first half,” Grain Valley coach Aleana Balistreri said. “The girls felt like they were still in the game, and they were trying really hard the rest of the game to get it back. We just couldn’t make it happen.”
O’Neal won a challenge with Eagles keeper Lindsey Mangum and put the ball into the far corner in the 49th minute for Fort Osage’s final goal.
“Going one-on-one with the keeper, I put a lot of faith into it (winning the ball), and I tried to do the best I could for my team and tried to get us the win,” O’Neal said.
Fort Osage was expecting a tough game Friday, O’Neal said, “But we kept our heads high because we knew we have a lot of talent on this team, so we knew we could do it.”
For Grain Valley, Friday’s loss capped what Balistreri called “a long week” involving three games in five days.
“I think we’re just tired, across the board,” she said. “I don’t think that we played to our potential at any position.”
Alas, the Eagles’ schedule doesn’t lighten up next week: They’re in tournament play at Summit Christian Academy.
“Hopefully, they can get over this loss, because I don’t want (it) to affect them next week,” Balistreri said.