Eagles roll past Fort Osage to remain undefeated
With his opponent missing six starters and two bench players, Grain Valley girls soccer coach Tyler Nichol was hoping his team wouldn’t take Fort Osage lightly.
That wasn’t the case Monday as his undefeated Eagles put their foot in the gas from the get-go and earned a 8-0 mercy-rule victory over the host Indians in Suburban Middle Six action Monday.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Nichol said. “We came in knowing they were missing players. We were worried if we were going to take it seriously enough. We just wanted to be clean with the ball and keep possession as much as we could and be dynamic in the final third. We did a good job with all those things.”
Facing a short-handed Indians team also allowed Grain Valley to get multiple players involved on offense as seven different players scored. The Eagles were led by freshman Annabelle Totta, a player Nichol had high praise for at the beginning of the season. She scored two goals and dished out two assists.
“I think we communicated better in this game than we have any other game,” Totta said. “It’s always good to do that.”
And that just made things even more difficult for the Fort Osage defense.
“Every position they are strong in,” Fort Osage coach Michael Brown said of Grain Valley. “They are athletic on top of that.”
Totta’s first goal came in the third minute when she scored off an assist from senior standout Raena Childers. Her second came with 8:14 left in the first half when she knocked in a rebound when the ball deflected off a Fort Osage player deep in the penalty box.
“She played well today.” Nichol said of Totta. “At times, she can be passive. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Hey, I am open. But I see a teammate, so I will just pass it to her.’ We’ve been encouraging her to take over and take players on one-versus-one. She showed that tonight and hopefully that will build her confidence going forward.”
It was all Eagles throughout as they dominated possession. Junior forward Rian Handy scored an unassisted goal in the eighth minute to put the Eagles (8-0, 1-0 Middle Six) to go up 2-0. Just five minutes later Childers scored her only goal off an assist from Totta to make it 3-0.
In the 30th minute, Fort Osage goalkeeper Bailey Hillbrand deflected the ball away from the goal, but freshman midfielder Kylee Bragaw was there to kick a ball out of mid air and rainbow a shot over Hillbrand for a 4-0 cushion.
Freshman defender Sevreign Aumua, who was a standout for the wrestling team, scored off a short through ball from Totta. After Totta made it 6-0, senior defender Valerie Holcomb sent a sharp cross from the far right side and freshman Charli Scharfenkamp flew in and knocked in a point-blank shot to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead going into halftime.
“When we are able to move the ball around, we feel more connected as a team,” Handy said. “It shows when we score a lot of goals.”
The game ended by mercy rule after Meghan Knust scored with 30:44 remaining.
“I am glad I was able to get that assist to (Aumua),” Totta said. “We’ve been working a lot in practice on moving the ball around and it showed today. We have a lot of awesome girls on the team.”
The Indians (3-3, 2-1) only had one shot on goal and couldn’t seem to get anything going without a bulk of their starters, including senior star Aliyah Ayala.
“We have a handful of injuries and one is on quarantine,” Brown said. “We’re trying to figure everything out. We seem to get it going for a game, then another girl will go out with an injury. Trying to learn to play with new teammates seems to be a struggle for the girls sometimes.”