Two 30-plus yard bombs. One stout second-half defense.
What does that add up to?
For the Blue Springs girls soccer team it equaled a 2-1 victory in a non-conference matchup against host Grain Valley Friday at Moody Murry Community Field.
Although the Eagles controlled time of possession, especially in the second half, a couple of long shots helped Blue Springs improve to 4-4-1.
The Wildcats’ first goal came off a rebound that deflected off a Grain Valley player and Olivia Issacs corralled. She floated a kick over the top of the defense from about 39 yards out and Eagles goalkeeper Lindsey Magnum was unable to make a leaping catch as it went under the crossbar and in to make it 1-0 in the seventh minute.
Katie Cole topped Issacs’ kick by three yards when she sent a rainbow from 42 yards out toward the Eagle goal. Magnum was at the top of the box directing traffic before Cole gathered a clear and released a booming shot. Magnum retreated toward the goal but couldn’t get back in time to as the ball landed in an empty net in the 19th minute.
“I don’t get many opportunities to score a goal,” Cole said. “So when I saw her up in the box, I knew I had to kick it. I thought it was going over and when it went in I was like, ‘OK, awesome.’”
Wildcats coach Doug McLagan said he knew both shots were going to go in during mid-flight and he was impressed with both of the kicks.
“(Cole) meant it, too,” McLagan said. “I’ve seen girls make that when they are kicking it in the general direction. She actually placed it. As soon as she hit it, I said, ‘That’s a goal.’ Olivia had a nice strike. Their goalie was a little far off the line. When the ball came out, (Magnum) was still off the line and Olivia hit it, there was no chance for the keeper to get it.”
His team could have been up 4-0 in the first half but an open shot from Lexi Thomas bounced off the right goalpost, and Issacs tracked down a long pass from a teammate and had an open shot go just wide left.
Grain Valley looked like it might make the Wildcats pay for the missed opportunities. Haley Hunter, who had just had an open shot kicked away at the last second by Gracen Martin, got a tackle on Cole and stole possession. She dribbled it inside the box on the right wing and put one in to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Grain Valley dominated time of possession and outshot the Wildcats 9-4 in the final 40 minutes but couldn’t manage an equalizer. Samantha Berg had one open shot miss just wide left, another one big shot stopped by a diving Desiree Barajas, and third just go over the goal on a give-and-go pass from Kailey Boyer. Boyer also had a solid strike stopped by another Barajas dive.
“I thought we kept everything compact and we kept it all together and were really well organized,” Issacs said.
Grain Valley coach Tyler Nichol was pleased with how his team possessed the ball, but the two long shots hurt.
“We had the ball more and we knew that coming in because we are a better passing team,” he said. “But they played those long balls and we struggled to deal with them. We caught the mistakes and made adjustments in the second half but it was too late.”