Fort Osage coach Andrew Fletcher was frustrated.
“Are you guys even going to play today?” he yelled to his team early in its contest against William Chrisman Thursday. “Is anyone going to pick anyone up?
It wasn’t the performance he expected, especially coming into the game on such a roll. Although the Indians captured a 2-1 win over the U.S. 24 rival Bears at Independence All-School Stadium, it was far from the team’s best performance, Fletcher said.
“We really weren’t good the entire game,” he said. “We got out-hustled, but we got away with it. We weren’t here mentally today.”
The last time these two squads faced off, Fort cruised to a 5-0 win. That and the fact the Indians (10-6-1, 7-1 Suburban Middle Seven) extended their winning streak to seven and still sit atop the standings made the players think that a 2-1 win was not good enough.
“We just didn’t come out to play at all and thought we had it in the bag,” senior Marina Rios said. “Since we are ranked No. 1 (in the conference) and we beat them bad last time that we thought we could take it easy. You can’t do that.”
Chrisman controlled the pace for the first 10 minutes of the game and Fort goalkeeper McKenzie Lyon had to make a diving save of an Adreon Bell kick five minutes into the game. In fact, Chrisman, a team that normally doesn’t get off a lot of shots, was outshot only 10-7.
“Normally their midfield plays back but they were up a lot, which really shocked us all and we weren’t ready for it,” senior Leigh Anne Bartlett said.
The Indians had to depend on a couple of surprise goals to gain a victory. The first came in the first half when Bartlett booted a long kick along the right sideline that bounced off the left goalpost and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
“They didn’t pressure me at all, so I was just like, ‘Why not go for it?” Bartlett said. “I just wound up and shot it. I didn’t really expect it to go in.”
The second was a game-winner for Rios in the 63rd minute. While being double-teamed she unleashed a kick from 30 yards out and appeared to initially be stopped by Bears (4-9-1, 2-5-1) goalkeeper Tierra Lopez, but the ball bounced off her leg and went backward across the goal line as she wasn’t able to corral it in time.
“I have no idea how in the heck that went in,” Rios said. “I felt like I needed to try and take it myself. It was a left-foot shot and I was thinking, ‘Oh, that’s terrible.’ But it went in.”
Although Chrisman didn’t get the win, coach John Straub was pleased with his team, which showed more offensive grit than normal. Maggie Beem sent a direct free kick from 40 yards out toward the goal midway through the second, and after Lyon punched it away, Elizabeth Eppert snuck in from the left side of the penalty box to put in her team’s only goal.
“We began the year with a lot of young players,” Straub said. “And they have been really patient as a team and have gotten better and better. They are starting to become more comfortable with each other.”