Fort Osage junior forward Megan Lyon was just one shot away from keeping her team’s hopes alive for capturing an outright Suburban Middle Six Conference girls soccer championship.
With 3 seconds left, Lyon had three defenders to her left but somehow found some space to get off one last shot against conference rival Staley. However, her shot deep in the 18-yard box was stopped by a diving Hannah Peterson, as the Staley goalkeeper preserved a 1-0 win for her team.
With the win, Staley moves into a first-place tie with Fort Osage in the Middle Six at 8-1. The Indians can clinch at least a share of the title with a win over Ruskin next Thursday. They can win it outright still with a win over the Eagles and a Staley loss to North Kansas City.
“We just have to move on from this,” Fort Osage coach Michael Brown said. “I know the girls will be disappointed if we just get a share of the conference title. They wanted to win it outright. But that doesn’t take away from what they accomplished this year. If we beat Ruskin, that will be our first conference championship since 2004.”
The Falcons played strong defense and man-marked Fort Osage’s leading scorer, freshman Aliyah Ayala. They did not let Ayala get any clean looks. The Falcons also didn’t allow Fort Osage (15-2) to get many quality looks overall. Aside from Lyon’s shot at the end, only three other shots came just outside or inside the box.
Emma Hogland had one shot right of the penalty box and a close-range header, both of which were stopped. She also won a 50-50 ball from a Staley defender and had a one-on-one breakaway opportunity against Peterson. However, the goalkeeper challenged Hogland and stopped her progress to the goal.
“We weren’t able to take advantage with the wind at our back,” Brown said. “Staley played really well defensively. We just didn’t get many good looks.
“Aliyah isn’t really surprising anyone anymore. Teams are game-planning for her. That makes it a little tougher to score.”
With the wind at their back, the Falcons seized the opportunity as they held a 9-0 advantage in shots on goal in the first half and 13-2 overall. Their only goal came off a corner kick when Rachel Beffa sent the ball directly in front of the goal, and Hailey Faubion kneed a shot into the back of the net during the 19th minute.
Staley mostly controlled possession, but the Indians defense played well, said Brown. Sophomore defender Sophia Smith was extremely active in Fort Osage’s third of the field as she halted many Staley attempts to push the ball toward the goal and started some counterattacks.
“It’s a shame because our defense played really well,” Brown said. “Staley got their only goal off a set piece. Sophia played great today and so did the rest of the back line.”