Ball control was key for the Blue Springs South girls soccer team.
It dominated time of possession throughout its Suburban Big Six Conference matchup against crosstown rival Blue Springs and didn’t allow a shot attempt until the second half as South cruised to a 3-0 win Tuesday.
The victory was the Jaguars’ fourth in a row. All four were shutouts. Not only did they told a sizeable advantage in time of possession, the defense was stout any time the Wildcats were able to push the ball in their third of the field. The South defenders had several defections and goalkeeper Megan Swanson made one diving stop and stopped a slow roller on Blue Springs’ only two shots on goal of the game.
“It’s a combination of everything,” South coach Todd Findley said. “Megan Swanson in the goal directs traffic in the back well. She was all-state last year and plays so fantastic. Our back line has really helped each other out with four shutouts in a row. Our midfield possesses the ball well and they are hard workers. And our forwards are making great runs.”
Senior forward Nina Stine said a lot of the credit goes to the defense for the team’s offensive success. The Jaguars have scored 15 goals in the last four games.
“Our defense has been great this past season,” Stine said. “We’ve had a great defense and a great midfield and we wouldn’t be able to score without them. We’re really unselfish with the ball and that helps, too.”
Stine, who has been on a goal-scoring tear to start the season, scored her 16th goal of the season on a booming 30-plus-yard kick from the left wing. It curved inside the right goalpost in the 37th minute to give her team a 2-0 lead.
“I’ve been telling her for years that her shot is so strong and she is so fast,” Findley said. “I told her to be more aggressive and take more shots and she’s always had the ability to do it. This year she has really taken it upon herself to go to the goal and get shots off. It’s helped us a ton. ”
So have other goal scorers like Mollie Maupin, Kayla Brashear and Mallory Kroencke – all of whom had goals in South’s winning streak. Maupin and Kroencke actually connected on the first goal. Maupin sent a corner kick right at Kroencke who put in an easy header in the 33rd minute to make it 1-0.
“We’ve really been working on corners,” Kroencke said. “We have a really good foot over there in Mollie. She did it all on that kick. We were taught to play aggressive, so that’s what I was doing (on the goal).”
“Nina is an amazing player. She knows where to be and what to do. She’s fun to play. Me and her do well together.”
South (7-2, 3-2 Big Six) held an 8-0 shots on goal advantage in the first half and 15-2 edge for the game. It wasn’t easy though, according to Stine, who said Blue Springs (3-4-1, 0-3) had an effective defensive scheme.
“They packed a lot of people in,” she said. “We couldn’t get any one-on-ones so we had to get possession through the back and in the midfield, so we had to play more as a team.”
Blue Springs finally got off its first shot attempt in the 41st minute when Hannah Goddard tracked down a long pass from a teammate and got a shot off inside the penalty box but Swanson made a diving stop to preserve the shutout.
Liz Corrales booted a shot just to the left of the goal on a cross from a teammate later in the half.
“They are a better team than we are,” Wildcats coach Doug McLagan said. “I was disappointed because we were seven minutes away to get into halftime 0-0, but the result doesn’t shock me. We played well for 95 percent of the game. They just have a more talented squad right now.”
Wildcats goalkeeper Desiree Barajas kept the game from getting out of hand with 14 saves, but she wasn’t able to stop a shot in the 76th minute when Maupin sent a free kick from 40-plus yards out inside the penalty box and Sydney Sharkey was able to track it down and put in the close-range shot.
“Sydney can do that.” Findley said. “She can win balls in the air and she has long strides. I am glad she got her goal today because she’s really worked hard at it.”