“A little asleep” was the phrase Fort Osage junior forward Megan Lyon used to describe her team’s mood during pregame warmups.
In fact, Indians head coach Michael Brown shouted, “When are we going to wake up?” after going down 1-0 to crosstown rival William Chrisman in the second half.
About 30 seconds later, freshman forward Aliyah Ayala gave her team the wake-up call it needed as Fort Osage rattled off five straight goals to earn a 5-1 win Tuesday at home in a Suburban Middle Six showdown.
“We weren’t putting away some chances we had early,” Brown said. “When that happens as a forward, your head drops down some. We flipped a switch after that.”
The Indians had a plethora of chances in the first half, with many shots coming inside the Chrisman penalty box. That was mostly because Bears goalkeeper Karina Vela was on her game. She notched 10 saves in the first half alone, won every challenge and had a pair of spectacular diving saves as the Indians attack managed 16 first-half shot attempts. For the game, the sophomore totaled a whopping 16 saves.
“Karina played a heck of a game for us,” Chrisman coach John Straub said. “There were several saves she made in this game that I have never seen out of her before. It was really impressive.”
Vela was a huge reason Chrisman was able to stay in it even with Fort Osage (14-1) dominating possession for the entire first half. Her play also led to Chrisman taking the lead early in the second period when junior forward Tierra Lopez knocked in a header off a perfect corner kick from Celeste Cummins.
That’s when Fort Osage’s freshman sensation forward decided to take over. Less than 30 seconds later, Ayala received a pass from Lyon at the top of the 18-yard box and sent a laser just underneath the crossbar to tie it.
“The intensity seemed to go down after (Chrisman’s) goal, but I am not one to let that happen,” Ayala said. “I was like, ‘Let’s go! Let’s get this one!’ I had the urgency to get my team going.”
Shortly after Fort Osage’s Haley Jones was robbed of a goal by a diving Vela, Ayala broke the tie when she got a perfect through ball from Lyon. She streaked toward the pass and put it in.
Moments later, Chrisman (7-6) got the ball inside the Indians box, but it was unable to put away a pair of attempts.
Lyon took advantage and helped put the game away when she sent a cross in front of the goalmouth. The ball deflected off a Bears defender and went in to make it 3-1.
Ayala finished off her hat trick in the 79th minute with a goal, her 33rd of the season. She needs just two more goals to break the school record for goals in a single season (34 by Brandi Beale in 2003) and one to match it.
“She’s getting closer. I think there’s a chance she’ll get it,” Brown said.
Lyon crossed over a Chrisman defender and sent a shot inside the left post to put the exclamation point on the comeback win about 20 seconds later.
“She is a tough girl,” Brown said of Lyon, who also had three assists. “She gets the ball up the field well when we get the ball to her. We can play off of her. We asked her to switch roles, and she has responded.”
The chemistry between Lyon and Ayala was a big spark in the Fort Osage late-game surge.
“I don’t know why we work so well together,” Lyon said. “I don’t know what’s going on. When we’re close together, good stuff happens.”