The Smith-Cotton defense withstood a barrage of Jefferson City chances, even after going down a man, but ultimately could not hold off the Lady Jays, falling 3-0 on Wednesday at Susie Ditzfeld Field.
“I think we played 70 minutes of an 80-minute game,” said Smith-Cotton coach Shawn Cairer. “All of their offensive goals came from marking errors, stabbing in the defensive third, little things that we still should not be doing at this point in the season.”
But after holding off Jefferson City for 65 minutes, including 10 minutes after a red card left the Lady Tigers with 10 players, the Lady Jays broke through in the 66th minute and proceeded to score three times in three minutes.
“We’ve talked about being focused all year and we definitely had to battle all game, definitely defended a lot,” Cairer said. “We still can’t afford to have those mental letdowns, just lack of focus in our defensive third, because that’s what happens there.”
Jessica Cooper stopped 20 shots, often several in a row. In the 21st minute, she got caught out of position near the edge of the area and Jeff City’s Sarah Luebbert tried to loft it over her head, but Cooper recovered in time and made the save. In the 63rd minute, Cooper dove to her right to stop a shot by Luebbert.
Even Jefferson City’s third goal came after Cooper had made a pair of saves. Lady Jays forward Eden Hoogveld fired a shot from Cooper’s right and the Smith-Cotton keeper dove to stop it. The rebound went to Hoogveld, who fired again, and again Cooper dove to stop it. However, Hoogveld found a teammate who tapped it in and made it 3-0.
“She had some great, great saves,” Cairer said. “She really came to play. It’s tough because when she makes two great saves and then the ball goes to the back post and someone is just standing there unmarked and touches it in, that’s incredibly tough to overcome.”
Jefferson City broke the scoreless tie in the 66th minute when Cooper stopped a shot from Luebbert, who had made a run into the Smith-Cotton end, and Grace Haarman found the back of the net on the rebound.
Haarman struck again off a corner kick in the 67th minute.
Smith-Cotton rarely got the ball into the attacking third and when the chances did come, the Lady Jays stifled them without much trouble. Late in the first half, Kirby Lewellyn and Jill Vansell brought the ball into Jefferson City’s end, but the Lady Jays defense held firm and Smith-Cotton could not get a shot off.
Jefferson City stifled another attack in the 47th minute when keeper Becca Sturgess got to a long pass before any Smith-Cotton forwards could get to it.
“They’re good all over,” Cairer said. “They’re fast. They’re skilled. They’re experienced.”
Jefferson City outshot Smith-Cotton and had a 6-0 edge in corner kicks in what was a physical game on both sides from the outset.
“I’m really happy with the way we stepped up and played physical, stayed strong,” Cairer said.
Smith-Cotton (6-7) will host Clinton in the Cancer Awareness Game at 5 p.m. Thursday at Susie Ditzfeld Field.
Clinton at Smith-Cotton
6:30 p.m. Thursday