The Nixa Lady Eagles traveled to Waynesville Thursday evening to take on the state power Lady Tigers. The Waynesville Lady Tigers have only been defeated at one tournament this year. That tournament was a national quality event in Iowa. Also, #10 senior forward Katie Pritchard, is number two on the list of the state of Missouri’s all time, career scoring leaders.
Nixa proved once again that they are capable of beating any team on any given night as they gave Waynesville everything they wanted and then some. The game started with Pritchard and her Lady Tigers teammates pushing the Lady Eagles into their defensive third. Waynesville got off several shots in the first ten minutes, but most were contested and not particularly dangerous for Nixa freshman goalie Kristen Miller. You could see the Lady Eagles gaining in confidence after the initial barrage proved fruitless for their opponents. As more time passed, Nixa began holding possession themselves and were able to hold the ball in Waynesville’s half, getting off a few shots of their own.
By the middle of the first half, the play was fairly even between the two teams. Nixa’s Miller gave her team a shot of energy when she took on Waynesville’s Pritchard midway through the first half. Pritchard was able to slip by her Nixa defender just above the 18 box and break towards goal. Miller came out about twelve yards off her line and met Pritchard who attempted to beat her on the dribble and shoot one to the open net. Miller would have none of it however and dove to the ball at Pritchard’s feet. Miller enveloped the ball and took a kick to the face in the process. It was a great save and further frustrated the Lady Tigers’ players and fans.
Senior stopper Jacklyn Finley would send the Lady Eagles to half with a 1-0 advantage when she scored on a direct kick in the 39th minute. The kick was taken at the D, just above the penalty area. Finley hit the ball perfectly. It was struck hard and flew over the wall, which was positioned about ten yards in front of the goal line, under the cross bar and over the goalie’s outstretched hands. It was an excellent shot and should prove to be a lasting memory for the Nixa senior playing in her last regular season game.
There was a certain foreboding as the second half began. The Lady Tigers would surely fight back and have the ability to score in bunches. Waynesville, in fact, did come out very aggressive to open the second half. Again, play for the first ten minutes was mostly in Nixa’s defending third of the field. Katie Pritchard was able to score in this half however. She scored on a PK after a penalty was called on Nixa in the box. The free kick was struck hard and with confidence. It tied the score 1-1.
About five minutes later, in the 56th minute, the Lady Tigers crossed a ball from the right side into a crowded 6 yard box. #3 junior Lynette Newcomb was able to get the ball to her feet and shoot it past the group of defenders and past a shielded Miller. The score gave Waynesville a 2-1 lead.
Nixa responded like champions. Instead of dropping their heads, the Lady Eagles were determined to fight hard. They put Waynesville back on their heals and controlled possession after getting behind. In the 68th minute, senior forward Stephanie Allen was able to get the ball and out run the Waynesville defense. She came clear about 25 yards from the goal and was rushing toward the goalie. At about 10 yards from the goalie, Allen was tripped by her pursuer and earned the Penalty Kick. Allen calmly finished the play as she beat the goalie and tied the score 2-2.
The rest of regulation and the first overtime period were primarily controlled by Waynesville with an fairly frequent counter attack by the Lady Eagles. In the last minute of the second overtime, Katie Pritchard won the game for the Lady Tigers. She received the ball deep in Nixa territory after a sustained offensive possession by Waynesville. With her back to the goal, Pritchard was able to turn at the top of the penalty area, juke her defender and gain enough space to rifle a ball with her right foot to the far left side of the goal. The golden goal finished the contest.
The game was played on Waynesville’s artificial turf. The speed of play was fast and the Lady Eagles improved greatly in their shape from their earlier artificial turf game against Joplin. That is important because Nixa takes on Joplin at Junge Field in the first round of district play on Monday night.
Each and every Nixa player played hard, played well, and should be proud. It was a tremendously entertaining match. Thank you ladies for your hard work, skill, and no-quit attitude. It was a lot of fun!
Final Score 2nd OT