The Smith-Cotton girls soccer team scored early in the game and early in the second half and held off Warrensburg until the final minute for a 2-1 West Central Conference win Thursday at Susie Ditzfeld Field.
The host Lady Tigers kept the pressure on for the first 15 minutes of the game to generate several scoring chances, keeping the ball in the Warrensburg end and keeping the visitors from having chances down in the S-C end.
In the sixth minute Jill Vansell had a chance but the visiting keeper got to a ball in front of the net first. Moments later Maddie Davidson hit the post with a shot. An Alexia Goodson tackle just outside the penalty area in the seventh minute led to another chance for Vansell which was saved.
Davidson broke through with a strong strike in the 12th minute.
“I had someone on the right side and they just crossed it over and I hit it with the right foot,” she said.
Aside from a few scattered Warrensburg chances, S-C kept the pressure on in the first half.
“We were possessing the ball well and that’s what we stressed heading into the game was holding onto the ball and playing to feet,” said Smith-Cotton coach Adam Murray. “I thought we did a very good job of that to start the game.”
The Smith-Cotton midfield was able to deliver passes to set up those chances, something the defense was denying them in Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to St. Pius.
“(Passing) was a lot better (Thursday) than it was,” Davidson said. “We had a team talk and I think we got together and really got it this game. Our passing needed improvement and I think we improved it.”
Winning balls in the air has also been a point of emphasis for S-C and an area where Murray saw improvement from his team against Warrensburg.
“When the game was getting chippy and the girls were getting aggressive, I thought that was a turning point and a key to the game,” Murray said. “We won more 50/50 balls and balls in the air (Thursday) than we’ve won in any game this year and that was a key to the game.”
When Warrensburg did have chances, often they didn’t make it through to Smith-Cotton goalkeeper Lydia Sharp. In the 27th minute, Madison Hendricks made a sliding tackle to stop a Warrensburg scoring opportunity. A 56th minute corner kick was cleared by Smith-Cotton, leading to a counter attack. A Warrensburg chance in the 66th minute was cleared off the line by the Smith-Cotton defense. A shot by Patience Fleak in the 75th minute was blocked by the S-C defense.
“They were solid I thought we were organized, we were playing together. That was the most communication I’ve seen out of our backs this year.”
Smith-Cotton added a second goal in the 45th minute as Jessica Coble weaved her way through several defenders to get a clean shot past the keeper.
Warrensburg eventually got on the board when Amanda Taylor scored off a free kick with one minute left.
Smith-Cotton won the junior varsity game 5-2 behind four goals from Taylor Beebe.
The win puts Smith-Cotton (11-7, 6-2 WCC) half a game ahead of Warrensburg and into second place in the WCC, half a game behind league-leading St. Pius X. S-C will host Hickman on Monday before closing out the regular season with a pair of conference games, at O’Hara Tuesday and at Warrensburg on Wednesday.