The Fort Osage girls soccer team got the bounce-back performance it needed.
Coming off a pair off losses to quality squads in Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit, where the Indians lost by a combined 9-0 score, they rebounded against U.S. 24 rival William Chrisman. The Indians scored two early goals and put together a solid defensive performance in a 2-0 Suburban Middle Seven victory Tuesday at Independence All-School Stadium.
The road team controlled the ball throughout the game, limiting Chrisman to just two shots while they tallied 18 of their own.
“We won the 50-50s and went to the ball first,” said Fort Osage junior midfielder Marina Rios, who had assists on both goals. “We came out here with an attitude to win, and we passed the ball and connected very well. The score would have been higher if it weren’t for some unlucky finishes.”
Indians coach Andrew Fletcher credited a good Monday practice for the team’s improved performance, and felt his team played much better than the previous two contests.
“This was good for us,” he said. “We played well and were solid defensively. We created a lot of opportunities and possessed the ball most of the game. We played a couple tough teams before and now that were in our conference (games), things are a little easier.
“Yesterday they worked really, really hard. And we just wanted to bring that working hard into this game, which they did for the most part. If you put those things together, we’re pretty tough to beat.”
It helped that the defense was stellar, too.
“We try to teach them, when you don’t have possession, everyone is a defender,” Fletcher said. “If we defend high up the field, it takes the pressure off the defense.”
That helped Fort Osage (4-5, 3-0 Middle Seven) hold on for the win after making two early goals. Junior midfielder Aspen O’Neal scored the team’s first goal when she received a Rios cross from the far right corner of the field, tapped the ball in front of her to settle, then chipped it past a diving Jordyn Atagi in the 17th minute.
“My goal was to get open and get into a position to make something happen,” Rios said. “That’s what I was able to do. I was open and was calling for it. My team gave me everything I could possibly work with, and I was able to dish it right back.”
“I saw her (Atagi) coming toward me, and I just kind of went up because I knew she was coming down,” O’Neal said. “It looked like it went under her arms.”
The second goal was set up by Rios. She had possession and was streaking parallel to junior forward Leigh Anne Bartlett, sent a cross to left side of the penalty box and Bartlett angled in a 10-footer inside the right goalpost in the 29th minute.
“This gave us a lot of confidence because we know we can actually score,” O’Neal said. “Playing against those teams (Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit) was rough, but it prepared us to be here and play well today.”
Both of Chrisman’s shot attempts came in the first half, and its goalkeeper, Atagi, had a busy night, making eight saves. The closest the Bears came to a goal was when Makenzie Erikson sent a pass from 30 yards out to a wide-open Maggie Beem, but she was called offsides with just four minutes left.
“The first goal Fort Osage scored, we were a little unlucky on,” Chrisman coach John Straub said, whose team fell to 3-2 and 1-1 in the Middle Seven. “We just got a little bad bounce off a shoulder and it went in. With it being 1-0, Fort Osage became a little looser and were relaxed. We did the opposite and got a little tighter and nervous.”