The Smith-Cotton Lady Tigers have faced many obstacles this season, losing three of their four senior captains along the way.
The Lady Tigers will get a chance to redeem themselves this week in the Class 3, District 9 girls soccer tournament beginning today at Susie Ditzfeld Field.
The Lady Tigers, who have played all but two games this season without top goal scorer Jack Greer and top defender Elena Sharp, are the No. 4 seed in the four-team district.
The team also lost Tayler Gero near midseason, and the other senior captain, Lexi Webb, has been slowed by injuries during the last half of the season.
“All those players you expect to play 80 minutes of every game,” S-C coach Shawn Cairer said. “They’re some of our best players, and not having their leadership on the field (has hurt us).”
The Lady Tigers (8-12 overall, 6-4 West Central Conference) not only lost Gero, Greer and Sharp but had to count on contributions from a large freshman class.
“We’ve had a lot of girls gaining experience, and upperclassmen learning new positions,” Cairer said. “Hopefully we’ll bring it all together and finish strong here (today) — believe in each other and believe we can do it.”
The Lady Tigers won six of their first eight games before losing 11 of their next 14. They had lost six straight before beating Center 7-0 Thursday in Kansas City.
The Lady Tigers open against No. 1 Blue Springs South at 5 p.m. today.
Blue Springs South has beaten both Rock Bridge and Hickman this season while Smith-Cotton lost to both Columbia schools.
No. 2 Rock Bridge (7-9) and No. 3 Hickman (11-7-1) will face off in the other semifinal at 7 p.m. today.
“We have a good game plan,” Cairer said of the Blue Springs South matchup. “We need to beef up on defense and do everything we can to compete. Regardless of how the season has gone, the slate wipes clean now.”
The championship match is set for 6 p.m. Thursday.