By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Springfield — A brand new trophy was unveiled this week to commemorate the Kickapoo-Glendale soccer rivalry.
The Falcons wasted little claiming it, scoring just minutes into Wednesday’s contest en route to a convincing 4-0 victory.
Max Elmer’s blast from just inside the penalty box put Glendale up 1-0 in only the third minute of play. The junior forward threaded a ball through several defenders before passing Kickapoo goalkeeper Jacob Holman for the score.
Elmer’s goal fit right in with Glendale’s game plan, according to head coach Jeff Rogers.
“We wanted to try and strike from distance,” Rogers said. “I just knew [Kickapoo] would get players behind the ball, and it’s not like you’re going to be able to move through there.”
Midway through the half, the Falcons struck again.
Junior Mitch Stephens connected on a gorgeous header directly in front of the net from Grant Compere. The highlight finish materialized off a broken Glendale set piece.
“It started as a corner kick, then went back out to Grant, who served it back in,” Stephens said. “I saw an opportunity and took it.”
Rogers praised the junior defender’s poise and awareness.
“He’s done that all year,” Rogers said. “Mitch is our leading goal-scorer as a center-back, so that just shows you how valuable he is for us moving forward. He’s just a smart player around the goal and is very composed, stays in his lanes and finishes.”
Glendale notched its third goal just before the half when Kameron Clark blasted a rocket through the net from just inside midfield.
Cole Eise’s second-half strike gave the Falcons a fourth and final insurance goal to take with them back across town.
After the game, Rogers was most pleased with his team’s balanced attack.
“On a field like this, it’s kind of designed for the kind of kids we have that can hit a ball from distance,” Rogers said. “Finding goals can be hard to do, and we don’t have some of the kids we’re used to, so tonight to have four different kids score, that pretty much defines who we are this year.”
While Kickapoo fell into an early hole, the Chiefs weren’t without opportunities.
Unfortunately, the second half wasn’t exactly conducive for a comeback scenario. Frequent whistles and play stoppage made it increasingly difficult for Kickapoo to mount any kind of sustained rally.
The numerous stoppages included an injury and a trio of red card disqualifications down the stretch.
After watching his young team battle back from adversity earlier in the season, Kickapoo head coach Phil Hodge felt the opportunities were there heading into the second half.
“They’re a good soccer team,” Hodge said. “Great program and great tradition. We were down 3-0, but I felt like it was a good, competitive match. It felt like we made a couple early runs, but then it just got pretty choppy with all the fouls. It’s just hard to get anything going when it’s start-stop, start-stop.”
Rogers lamented the second-half pacing, as well, and praised goalkeeper Gage Patterson for holding fast amidst the chaos.
“The second half was probably frustrating for everybody,” Rogers said. “There were just so many whistles and not much play. I think [Kickapoo] was dumping some balls in there late trying to make some things happen, but [Patterson] did a good job tonight.”
After a couple days off, Glendale (7-1) heads to north Springfield for a weekend matchup with Central on Saturday, Sept. 16. Kickapoo (6-5) travels to the Kansas City area that same day to play Lees Summit West
Varsity Final: Glendale- 4, Kickapoo – 0
Glendale 2:35 Max Elmer (unassisted)
Glendale 21:53 Mitch Stephens (Grant Compere assist)
Glendale 37:14 Kameron Clark (Ryan Feeney assist)
Glendale 63:24 Cole Eise (Grant Compere assist)