The Van Horn girls soccer team has looked as good as it ever has in the past five years, according to interim head coach Vanessa Brockmeier.

The Falcons were off to a 6-2 start going into Thursday’s game against St. Joseph Benton, and they’ve found success with solid ball movement and keeping possession throughout the season.

However, they struggled to do that against the Cardinals, falling 3-1 at home.

“We didn’t play our best,” said Brockmeier, a five-year assistant who took over about two weeks ago for former coach Matt Tracy, who is no longer with the team for undisclosed reasons, according to Van Horn activities director Chris Corrie. “We didn’t follow the coaching points. They capitalized on our mistakes.

“We had our moments where we connected on passes really well. Then I think we got tired and shut off our brains and stopped communicating.”

Benton held an 8-3 advantage in shots on goal and didn’t give Van Horn too many open looks inside the 18-yard box. The Cardinals struck first in the 37th minute. Before the Van Horn defense could get set, Jayde Williams sent a direct free kick from just outside the top of the penalty box inside the left post for a 1-0 lead.

The Falcons had a couple of shots on goal in the first 10 minutes but both were stopped by Benton goalkeeper Kartyr Bigham. They didn’t break through until the 43rd minute. Freshman forward Cordilia Payne received a long pass from a teammate, got open on the left wing and slipped a shot past Bigham to tie it 1-1.

“She has an amazing shot,” Brockmeier said of Payne. “The defense made a mistake. They didn’t stay on her and they let the ball through, and she found an opening for an amazing goal.”

After that goal, the Falcons struggled to mount chances at the goal. Van Horn goalkeeper Olivia Tali made a diving save on a shot from Benton halfway inside the 18-yard box to help keep her team alive. Tali made two saves on shots early in the second half, but senior midfielder Alejandra Martinez knocked in a rebound to put the Cardinals ahead for good.

Carsyn Osborn scored the final goal when she used a quick behind-the-back maneuver and drilled a shot just under the crossbar.

“I am really looking forward to the rest of the season because we have a really great team,” Brockmeier said.