The Smith-Cotton girls soccer team twice cut two-goal deficits to one and had chances to equalize, but ended up falling to Helias 4-2 on Wednesday at Susie Ditzfeld Field.
Helias, which entered the game ranked No. 7 in the Missouri Soccer Coaches Association Class 2 state poll, scored five minutes into the game and added another in the 16th minute before the Lady Tigers answered. Helias kept the pressure on for much of the first half and had many chances in the second half as well.
“They’re a very good team,” said Smith-Cotton coach Adam Murray. “They’re good in the air, they’re aggressive. They were winning every ball out of the air. We tried to go over that with the girls at half but they’re an overall athletic team. They’re ranking in the state for a reason and they’re going to give teams problems.”
Becky Roberts scored a pair of first half goals, banking in the first Helias goal off the post and scoring a header off a corner kick to make it 3-1 in the 30th minute.
“We went into the game telling the girls we needed to keep a mark on her, keep an eye on her,” Murray said. “They target her and play through her. She’s the engine of their team. We tried to limit her touches and create tight marks but she’s good and she still created opportunities.”
Both Smith-Cotton goals came off set pieces. In the 20th minute Maddie Davidson made it 2-1 when she converted on a free kick from 35 yards out.
“We have given her a certain range,” Murray said. “If it’s something where she can put a good shot on frame, we’ve kind of given her the green light. She knows her range so if it’s in there, she’s capable of putting it on frame.”
Smith-Cotton scored again in the 40th minute to make it 3-2 Helias just before the half, Jill Vansell was dragged down in the penalty area and Alexia Goodson beat the keeper from the spot.
“She’s a confident player so I felt very comfortable having her go up and hit that,” Murray said. “She placed it nicely int he corner and put us in a position to get back in the game scoring that second goal.”
Smith-Cotton had another quality chance on a set piece in the 33rd minute. Taking a free kick from just outside the penalty area, Jessica Coble nicked the post.
Smith-Cotton had a handful of chances to tie the game in the second half but could not convert. After Roberts put a shot off the crossbar and off the post in the 42nd minute, the Lady Tigers counter-attacked. Vansell had a good look at a shot but Helias keeper Sydnee Kliethermes saved it.
Moments later Coble and Vansell connected on a play that Helias was able to save off the goalline. Helias stopped another free kick from Davidson in the 45th minute.
Helias then began turning the momentum back in its favor. Tiffany Weaver hit the post with a shot in the 47th minute. In the 49th minute, Smith-Cotton was called for a handball in the area but Lydia Sharp made the save on the penalty kick.
Helias eventually broke through with another goal in the 51st minute when Weaver tackled the ball away from the Smith-Cotton defense and scored.
Helias won the junior varsity game 7-0.
The Lady Tigers will open the Smith-Cotton Invitational at 7 p.m. Friday at Susie Ditzfeld against Grain Valley while the Smith-Cotton junior varsity will open the tournament at 7 p.m. Friday at Clover Dell Park against Harrisonville.