The Nixa Lady Eagles hosted the Catholic Lady Irish on Tuesday evening. Based upon the records of each team, the game wasn’t supposed to be close. The Lady Eagles had other ideas, however.
Nixa played well and almost pulled off the upset. The Lady Eagles are clearly playing with more confidence. The early season problem of expecting bad results seems to be resolving itself. In recent games, Nixa has scored ten goals (MV-BT), five goals (Hillcrest), and found a way to win a tough game (Bolivar).
The Lady Eagles now seem to be expecting good things to happen as their play is more focused, better organized in the mid-field and defense, and are more hungry in the attacking third. All of these qualities combined Tuesday evening for their most entertaining match of the season.
The first half was played to a scoreless draw. The play was back and forth. Possession was relatively even between the teams and as the Lady Eagles were well spaced and able to hold their own in the mid-field. Freshman center-midfielder Kelsey Haist and sophomore center-midfielder Jo Pavlowsky both played very well. They challenged their Catholic opponents in the middle of the field, rarely allowing an uncontested possession. Both Haist and Pavlowsky also were able to gain possession of many 50/50 challenges and start an offensive attack.
The defense also played especially well in the first half. Sweeper junior, Luce Crim stood her ground, kept the defense organized, and also cleared several goal kicks far into midfield. Freshman goalie Kristen Miller played another good game. She made several key saves that kept her team positive. Miller clearly has the potential to develop into an excellent goalie in the next three years.
Having played so well in the first half, there might have been an expectation that they Lady Eagles would come out a little tired and flat in the second half. That didn’t happen. While the Lady Irish did have the possession advantage in the second half, Nixa’s play was still aggressive and organized.
The opening score came off of a Catholic corner kick by #30, freshman Natalie Smid. #5 Anna DeLong rushed toward the ball and headed it near post past Miller. It was a good play by DeLong and a well-place ball by Smid.
The goal did not break the Lady Eagles’ spirit however. In fact, play intensified after the goal and the Lady Eagles were able to make several attacking runs. One of those runs resulted in a corner kick. Senior defender Jacklyn Finley served up a good ball about 10 yards in front of the goal. The Lady Eagles pounced the ball. Outside midfielder Hannah Barber and Jo Pavlowsky are developing into excellent targets as both are aggressive and hungry in the box. Finley’s corner was found by Pavlowsky. After a scrum in the 6 yard box, the ball was directed to senior forward Stephanie Allen, who was just outside the scrum in front of the goal. Allen kicked the ball in the net. The Lady Eagles had fought back against a strong opponent and found success. It was a clear indication of their maturity as a team and the improvement that Coach Palmer has made in their mental approach to the game.
The end of regulation came with the score tied 1-1. The first overtime proved disapointing as DeLong scored her second of the night on the golden goal. DeLong was able to break behind the defense in the 5th minute of the overtime and place the ball in the right side of the net as Miller came out to challenge.
Final Score OT