Fort Osage capitalizes on attention on Ayala to top rival Chrisman

Michael Smith
The Examiner

Opponents of the Fort Osage girls soccer team usually put the bulk of the defensive attention toward senior forward Aliyah Ayala.

After all, she holds the team record for goals in a season, amassing 61 in her all-state sophomore year before her junior season was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.

And that’s exactly what happened when the Indians faced off against crosstown rival William Chrisman in a Suburban Middle Six contest Tuesday.

They went into halftime tied 2-2, but Fort Osage dominated the second half en route to a 5-2 home conference victory.

“To win the second half 3-0 was a good response from our girls,” Fort Osage coach Michael Brown said. “Offense turned it on in the second half and we had a lot of shots.”

While Ayala was being man-marked by the Bears, junior Emma Le scored four goals to power the Fort Osage offense.

“She worked hard and Alaya set her up with a couple of assists as well,” said Brown, whose team improved to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the conference. “That partnership was important tonight.”

Fort Osage used a bevy of counterattacks against Chrisman (2-4, 0-1) in a game moved to an earlier time because of a light fixture issue at Fort Osage.

“Today we did very well to catch Chrisman in transition and breakaways,” Brown said. “We’d get good transitions on offense after taking it away on defense.”

Le scored in the 14th minute for a 1-0 lead and she assisted Ayala on her only goal in the 22nd minute to take an early 2-0 advantage.

Chrisman, however, bounced back with goals from sophomore midfielder J’Lea Berry and junior forward Emma Gervy to tie it at halftime.

“We improved from the previous game, which is a positive.” Chrisman coach Justin Schmidt said. “We felt pretty good going into halftime. I wish we could have done more with the strong wind. We could’ve got off a few more shots.

“We got the ball out wide at times. And we did a little bit of a better job of keeping possession.”

But that strong effort from the Bears was not enough as Le scored three goals in four minutes midway through the period. One was a wind-assisted goal off a corner kick.

“Aliyah is a great player and I think we did a good job taking her away,” Schmidt said. “Raigan Keltner did a good job defending her and knowing where (Ayala) was at all times.

“A couple of goals in the second half were a little unfortunate. One off a corner kick and the other one was a sloppy goal. Fort definitely had more possession, especially with the wind.”