The William Chrisman girls soccer team didn’t have to change much to its starting lineup because of 11 returning varsity letter-winners.
One position the Bears made a change for the 2018 season was at goalkeeper. Sophomore Karina Vela took over for Sarah Erickson after playing just six varsity games in 2017. So far, she’s been a part of a hot start for Chrisman as she’s directed a defense that hasn’t allowed a goal in three games, including a 2-0 win against crosstown rival Truman Thursday at Independence All-School Stadium.
“The girls have gotten off to a good start this year and I think part of that is we return our starting 10 field players from last year,” Chrisman head coach John Straub said. “They are a great group of girls. They work hard and are very coachable.”
Another change Straub made in-season was giving Adreal Bell her first varsity start at striker. She took advantage of her opportunity when she scored the team’s 14th goal of the season in the 45th minute when she outran four defenders on the back, found a open hole in the middle, and beat Truman goalkeeper Erin Davis one-on-one.
Bell fit a shot between the legs of Davis when the Truman goalie challenged and it rolled to the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
“It was a lot of fun,” Bell said. “Toed it because I saw the goalie come up.
“We usually don’t beat Truman a lot, so to beat them 2-0 is a lot of fun.”
The two newcomers helped Chrisman improve to 3-0. Vela totaled four saves and got plenty of help from the back line of Katie Laughlin, Lilly Conner-Urnise and Abby Bauman. Throughout, the Bears were able to continually start counter attacks as they pressured Truman to near perfection.
“It’s crazy,” Vela said of not allowing a goal in three games. “I am proud of my team, it’s a team effort. I work together with the defense and they are a big help. Their shielding and helping and it makes it easier for me.”
Added Straub: “We’re still trying to work on putting pressure on the other team and winning the ball higher up the field. At times, we did OK. We ran out of gas near the end. That helped us to win the ball up the field in the first half.
“Our team defense was pretty good. Our keeper is playing really well and anticipates any type of ball that comes through. She’s good with her feet, so we can drop the ball back to her, instead of trying to force something.”
Truman head coach Manny Tovar said that his team’s struggle to connect on passes allowed for the Bears to control possession for the majority of the contest.
“This is one of those games you want to completely forget about,” Tovar said. “We didn’t play well at all. We had trouble in the first half getting passes connected to each other. It was a bad overall start. Every time we got the ball, we gave it back to them.”
Chrisman outshot the Patriots 8-2 on goal and 11-4 overall. Davis challenged an early break away from Bell in the first half and won the one-on-one matchup knocking it away.
Davis had eight saves in the first half, but the one she wasn’t able to stop came with 13:59 left. Junior midfielder Celeste Cummins sent a perfect corner kick right in front of the goalmouth. With a thicket of players right there, Cassie Simpson was able to tap it in for a 1-0 edge.
It was all Chrisman for the first 60 minutes. Truman created more chances in the final 20 minutes, but the majority of their shots were from 25 yards out from the goal or farther.
“I don’t even know what to say about that,” Tovar said. “We tried to get shots up close, but we didn’t keep control of the ball.”