The Smith-Cotton girls soccer team could only produce an occasional sustained offense in its 5-0 West Central Conference loss to O’Hara on senior night Tuesday at Susie Ditzfeld Field.
“They came wanting to win a soccer game,” Smith-Cotton coach Shawn Cairer said of the Celtics. “They were outworking us.”
O’Hara held a 5-1 edge in corner kicks and a 21-16 edge in total shots.
With O’Hara sustaining pressure for most of the second half, Smith-Cotton was able to hold the ball in the attacking third early in the second half, but nothing came of it. Soon the Celtics turned the tide back in their favor.
“We have the ability to create opportunity as long as we’re making good decisions on the field,” Cairer said. “When that focus goes down and we start making poor decisions, then our effectiveness on the field decreases and we’re not able to create any opportunities. That’s why when we don’t pass to feet and we don’t have any build-up, we turn the ball over easily and they come at us. That’s what was happening.”
The Lady Tigers honored 10 seniors, including injured players Tayler Gero, Jack Greer and Elena Sharp, who took the field one last time in a Smith-Cotton uniform to start the game before the Lady Tigers booted the opening kickoff out of bounds to allow substitutes to come on.
“It was great to see those girls,” Cairer said. “Those girls are great girls and they have been a true asset the whole time. I just wish they could have stayed out there and played the whole game. We’re a different team with them than without them. It was definitely neat to see them out there one more time. It was neat of their coach and their team to allow us that opportunity.”
O’Hara had chances early. A fourth minute free kick was pushed aside by Smith-Cotton goalkeeper Ashlee Slack and Slack handled the ensuing corner kick as well. But the Celtics pushed through in the 11th minute when a rebound bounced to Kenzie Champion at the edge of the area and she scored to make it 1-0.
Smith-Cotton had several chances to equalize over the next 10 minutes. A header from Lexi Webb in the 12th minute went wide and a pass from Alexia Goodson into the area for Megan Lollis in the 13th minute was scooped up by Celtics keeper Ciru Franklin. Franklin got to another through ball in the 17th minute, and in the 18th minute, a shot by Lollis deflected off an O’Hara defender.
O’Hara made it 2-0 in the 21st minute when Sydney White scored the first of her three goals in the game. Smith-Cotton had occasional chances late in the first half, including a Kirby Lewellyn run the Celtics defense closed off and a shot from Webb at the buzzer that Franklin saved.
Smith-Cotton had chances early in the second half, but a Kelsey Webb run into the attacking third ended when O’Hara’s Lucia Crosetti tackled the ball away from her. She had another chance moments later, but Franklin made the save.
O’Hara added three goals in the second half with White scoring on a rebound in the 48th minute and off a header in the 68th. The Celtics made it 5-0 in the 76th minute when Bridget Wages sped through the Lady Tigers defense on a counter attack.
“We try to have depth with the sweeper position, but she was able to use her speed and exploit us,” Cairer said. “We need to make better decisions defensively.”
Smith-Cotton (7-12, 5-3 WCC) will host St. Pius X at 6:30 p.m. today at Susie Ditzfeld Field.