The Chiefs tallied three goals in a game-swinging, 11-minute span during the second half of Monday’s match at Springfield Catholic, rallying from a halftime deficit to prevail 3-2 and earn their ninth straight victory.
Freshmen Jalyn McClean and Serena Boyce brought the Chiefs level, setting the stage for senior Jessica Weedin’s game-winner in the 66th minute as the Chiefs improved to 13-3-2 overall.
The Chiefs haven’t lost since falling 2-1 at Class 4 No. 1-ranked St. Joseph’s Academy on April 8.
“We don’t care who scores or who finds a way to do it,” said Chiefs coach Phil Hodge. “Somebody will. This group is really tight-knit and has come together. I think it shows.”
Weedin, an SBU signee, won a foot-race to the ball against an aggressive Catholic goalkeeper to put home the eventual game-winner.
“It was a race between the goalie and I, and I saw a defender coming at me, too, (the defender) cut off the near post, so I knew the only way I could score was the back post,” Weedin said. “I shot there, it went in.”
Catholic, ranked No. 2 in Class 2 in the latest state coaches’ poll, had the Chiefs in an early hole as Peyton McNabb scored in the eighth minute.
The Irish went up 2-0 in the 32nd minute after Emma Skornia scored off of Kaleia Huttenlocher’s corner kick.
“We were pretty upset about the efforts in the first half and how we were playing,” Weedin said. “But we knew that we could pull through if we all came together as a team, as a unit.”
Added Hodge: “At halftime, we all agreed (the first half) wasn’t our best half of soccer, for whatever reason.”
Kickapoo began to find its offensive rhythm in the final minutes of the first half. The Chiefs hit post in the 38th minute, then had a shot roll across an empty net in tantalizing fashion in the final minute.
Irish coach Ben Timson could sense the tide of the game turning.
“When you’re just constantly under that kind of pressure with that athleticism and speed, the odds are that they’re eventually going to finish one,” he said. “They didn’t have any one goal where it was like, ‘Wow, there’s nothing we could do about that.’ But I just think it was a numbers thing. They’re putting on that much pressure, it’s awful hard to stop them.”
McClean and Boyce, speedy freshmen reserves, finally brought the Chiefs’ comeback to life midway through the second half.
McClean scored in the 55th minute, capitalizing on a rebound attempt after Lily Simphaly-Ragsdale’s shot was deflected.
Boyce got the equalizer about four minutes later, converting on a one-timer set up by Skylr Houzenga.
“They’re fast and don’t know any better,” Hodge said of the freshmen pair. “They work their tails off.”
Fatigue caught up to Catholic against Kickapoo’s superior depth, Timson said.
“They just kept running players at us,” he said. “They moved the ball a lot better than we did, and that tired us out. In other words, they let the ball do a lot more work than we did. We worked really hard, but a lot of it – that work-rate we were trying to keep up – eventually got to us.”
Monday’s match was a rare grass-field game for Kickapoo. The Chiefs have two more potential grass games ahead this week, with trips to West Plains (April 25) and Parkview (April 27).
“We’ve played a few games on grass, but mostly we’ve played on turf,” Weedin said. ”We’re used to working hard, but also having the ball work for us with the turf and having it (scoot) on the ground more easily for us. Moving through the grass was a different experience, but I think we worked well with it.”
Catholic fell to 11-3-1 overall with the loss. The Irish have some long road trips ahead with a game at Neosho on Wednesday and a trip to Cape Girardeau this weekend for the Notre Dame (CG) Showcase.
“That first 40 minutes tonight, we played extremely well,” Timson said. “We need to figure out what we did then and play that way for 80 minutes.”
Kickapoo 3, Catholic 2
Kickapoo 0 3 — 3
Catholic 2 0 — 2
Catholic (8’) – Peyton McNabb (Emma Skornia assist)
Catholic (32’) – Skornia (Kaleia Huttenlocher assist)
Kickapoo (55’) – Jalyn McClean
Kickapoo (59’) – Serena Boyce (Skylr Houzenga assist)
Kickapoo (66’) – Jessica Weedin