Aliyah Ayala's four goals help Fort Osage rout Truman in opener

By Cody Thorn
The Examiner

Fort Osage girls soccer coach Michael Brown knew it had been a long time since his team played a game.

He got online and thanks to some research, he found it had been 678 days since the last one – a loss to Blue Springs in the Class 4 District 14 championship game on May 16, 2019.

A lot has changed since then but the Indians got back to their winning ways by posting an abbreviated 8-0 win over host Truman Tuesday.

The two Suburban Middle Six rivals met in the district tournament in 2019 and Fort Osage rolled to a 5-0 win – the 16th straight win that season before the loss to Blue Springs.

The Indians opened the 2021 with Emporia State commit Aliyah Ayala scoring four goals and having an assist on two others. Of the eight goals Fort Osage scored, the team had an assist on seven of them – the only exception was Ayala’s penalty kick goal in the 31st minute.

The senior, who had 61 goals during an all-state season as a sophomore, took home the “Fort Osage Woman of the Match” championship belt.

It’s been so long since Brown had to pick a player of the game, most of the Indians were already off the field and headed toward the bus.

“It is a team tradition and it is honorable,” Ayala said. “I love it; it is cute and definitely a good way to get the girls to have fun.”

Ayala scored goals in the seventh, 14th, 19th and 31st minutes. She provided helpers on goals by junior Emma Le in the 19th minute – before her goal in the same minute – and on junior Elayna Lamb’s goal in the 20th minute.

That helped the Indians build a 6-0 lead midway through the first half. Le added her second goal in that span and junior Jaleigha Willis scored in the 35th minute for the final goal.

“I am hoping we work hard,” Ayala said. “This is a new team with a lot of freshmen coming in. There is a lot of development we need to do; build chemistry to get to know how we play on the field. So far we have done a good job of getting to know each other. If we work hard, we will get the result we wanted.

“I hope we take this game as a learning curve. Not every game will be like this. There will be teams working hard to beat us. We have won conference championships the past two years (2018, 2019) and people are coming for us and everyone is working hard, so we have to work 10 times harder.”

Brown noted the Indians are still trying to learn about each other and said that prior to Tuesday about half of the roster hadn’t played in a varsity game or a high school match.

The early results were promising for the Indians, particularly a defense that allowed only two shots on goal. Junior goalkeeper Kaylee Gorbet made both saves for the shutout.

Meanwhile, the Fort Osage offense peppered Truman goalkeepers Bailee Gfeller (junior) and Catherine Dillon (freshman) with 15 shots.

The Patriots had only six players back from the 2019 roster and only three starters. That meant a lot of new faces on the field for coach Manny Tovar. When practices started earlier this month there were only 14 girls coming out for the team, but in recent weeks the number grew to 27 thanks to additions from the basketball, cheerleading and Starsteppers squads.

“We have a lot of girls that are new,” Tovar said. “We have a lot of new people that have joined us. It will definitely be an interesting year, but it will be a fun year. The biggest thing for us, with so many new girls, is to just play. We had five or six girls that had never played a high school game until today.”