By Matt Turer — firstname.lastname@example.org
Monett, Mo. — Fair Grove’s offense continued to click Thursday, and it’s starting to look like the Lady Eagles have a new scoring threat.
Senior midfielder Leah Wahlquist scored her third goal of the season at 3:36 before the half, matching the two-year captain’s career goal total coming into this year and putting Fair Grove (5-1) up 2-0 in its 3-0 win over Monett (4-4) inside a rainy and windy Burl Fowler Stadium.
“That’s not her game,” Fair Grove head coach Joseph Florez said. “Her game is defend first. But she improved her shooting ability in the offseason and came in ready.”
But Wahlquist’s goal didn’t come without controversy. Wahlquist’s scoring opportunity was set up after an official ruled a Monett defender played the ball back to Lady Cubs goalie Alexis Brannon after Fair Grove forward Maegan Holland lost possession after a rush into the goal box, setting up an indirect kick.
Monett head coach Neal Bluel saw things differently.
“What I saw was the ball hit off my player’s thigh and then my goalie pick it up. What he saw was a pass back. So he called an indirect kick for passing back to the goalie, which isn’t allowed,” Bluel said.
“It was a turning point. Something like that, calls happen, you have to deal with it after the result of the call, and we didn’t. We didn’t step up and get back into it.”
Without a heady play by Holland on the indirect, the goal may not have happened in the first place.
“I was proud of [Holland],” Florez said. “A lot of kids would’ve tried to shoot it there and hope it deflects in, but Megan played it back into space for Leah, and Leah is sitting there wide open and had a nice shot.”
Sophomore midfielder Shyanne McBroom put Fair Grove up 1-0 (26:01) on a shot from just outside the goal box. McBroom was also assisted by Holland.
Fair Grove continued to control play inside Monett’s zone for much of the second half, with a goal from Madison Lair finding its way through traffic off an Ashlee Gallinger corner, putting the Lady Eagles up 3-0 with 20:33 to play.
The Lady Eagles attempted 16 corners Thursday to Monett’s three.
Monett handed Fair Grove its only loss of the season with a 1-0 final in the Fair Grove Tournament on March 18.
“I think our back line was a lot stronger [today],” Florez said. “We really struggled the first game with playing together. They were a little more ready than we were early on [in the season]. We had a little time to grow and work on things and I think we showed it today.”
Brannon finished with six saves. Fair Grove goalie Autumn Wilson saved four shots.
Fair Grove: The Lady Eagles can move to 6-1 and push their win streak to four games with a win over Parkview (0-3) next Thursday, April 6.
Monett: With one more win, the Lady Cubs would match their win total from last season, which was also a single-season wins record for the program. Monett was without three players in Thursday’s loss. Bluel did not say when they will return, but said their absence impacted the Lady Cubs mentally against Fair Grove. Monett visits Rogers Heritage (Ark.) on Monday.