By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Next month, Bolivar may look back at Monday’s result as a confidence-building loss.
The Lady Liberators fell at home, 2-0, against Class 4 Republic. For Bolivar (8-2 overall), it may have been the best competition they’ll face until the Class 3 postseason.
“It’ll help us for sure,” said Liberators coach Steve Fast. “They play all the big schools and we knew that coming in. It’s all about districts for us. That’s a great team to help us prepare. I can’t imagine us seeing a team stronger than that in districts.”
Republic struck early and late.
The Lady Tigers led 1-0 less than 10 minutes into the match. Dribbling down the right side, Anna Jones slipped a ball toward the middle for Clara Fronabarger.
The sophomore, who led Republic in scoring as a freshman, converted to give Republic an early 1-0 lead.
Republic sealed the win in the 66th minute on a goal from Abbie Hicks.
“I thought we did a good job of finishing (the win) out,” said Republic coach Kevin Hauck. “Being able to get that second goal and shutting down their chance of coming back was big for us. There for a little bit, (Bolivar) made some really good pushes and had some nice looks.
Fronabarger did not finish the game, however.
Late in the first half, she went down following a slide tackle from a defender.
The sophomore walked off the field on her own power but did not return.
Republic has three more games this week alone, including a key home match Thursday against district foe Carthage (5-1 overall).
“Her knee’s a little sore, but the trainers thought that everything was strong there and didn’t think there was any damage,” Hauck said. “Hopefully, she’s OK. We’ll reevaluate (Tuesday), see where she’s at and that will determine what happens moving forward this week.”
Despite conceding early, Bolivar went toe-to-toe with Republic for much of the match.
In the 70th minute, Bolivar’s Abby Bradshaw sprinted toward a deflected ball in the box and took a shot that carried just wide of the far post. In the final minute, Paige Martin hit the crossbar on a shot from about 30 yards out.
“I felt like we were very level and even,” Fast said. “We had just as many chances, if not more, than Republic. We just couldn’t find the net tonight.”
Republic’s defense has stepped up over the last three weeks – a stretch that’s seen the Lady Tigers win seven of eight games and outscore opponents 24-8. Three of the eight goals allowed came in a 3-2 loss to Jefferson City in the backend of a Saturday doubleheader.
“Our defense is playing really well,” Hauck said. “I’m proud of the way their playing.”
Fast singled out sophomore Regan Holmes as a difference-maker along Republic’s backline.
“She cleaned up a lot of stuff tonight and wouldn’t let much get by,” Fast said.
Bolivar looks to bounce back at home Tuesday night against former conference foe Marshfield.
“For (Republic’s) class and level of team, I felt like our girls really competed well,” Fast said. “That’s a good sign for us down the road. The goals will come, they just weren’t there tonight.”
Republic returns home Tuesday night for a match against Branson. The Lady Tigers cap a busy week on Friday by hosting Kickapoo.