The Nixa soccer Lady Eagles earned their first district championship after a 2-1 comeback victory at home over the Glendale Lady Falcons. Glendale defeated Nixa, 3-1, earlier in the season, making the win that much sweeter for the Eagles.
“It’s always been a good game between us, but this is the first time we’ve ever been able to win it,” said Nixa head coach Evan Palmer. “They have such opportunistic players… [and] they’re who we’re trying to emulate.”
Nixa, however, took emulation to another level, dominating play for most of the first half. The Eagles had six first half shots on target compared to Glendale’s two.
Still, Glendale did not make it to the district finals just to fizzle out, and despite Nixa’s offensive energy, it was the Falcons’ senior star, Driana Raff, who scored the game’s first goal. Kasey Opfer sent the ball sailing towards the net, it deflected off the crossbar, and Raff met it mid-air for a header goal in the 34th minute.
With time running out in the first half, Nixa’s right forward Alyson Galler crossed the ball center to find Payton DeHart open just outside of the 18. Then, cutting past a lone Glendale defender, DeHart drilled the ball into goal to even the score.
Glendale turned up the energy in the second half, nearly scoring after a corner with multiple attempts on goal in the 68th minute.
“Second half, it seemed like the ball was down there a lot and they did a good job of putting balls into a dangerous position,” said Palmer.
Glendale’s McKenzie Robbins put a shot to Nixa keeper, Lexi Stagner, who deflected it. Allison Yoakam followed Robbins’s shot, pounding Nixa defender Taylor Stamper with a ball that would have otherwise been the Falcons’ second goal.
“I think all the goals you saw tonight were somebody really wanting to beat somebody,” said Glendale head coach Jeff Rogers. “Our girls found those, and we had that ball rattling around in there on that one corner; they just had kids in there ready to keep it out.”
Nixa turned the momentum around quickly after a restart, and fed the ball up the middle to DeHart who put a through ball to forward Shalynn Thomas. Thomas took possession and outmaneuvered Glendale’s last defender.
“Payton played me, I tried to cut, and the other girl, as she was going down, was trying to pull me,” said Thomas. “I saw that I had a shot with my left foot, but that leg is injured, so I was nervous kicking it.”
With the rest of the Glendale defense closing in fast, Thomas took her chances one on one with keeper Kindra Lierz, and hammered the game winning shot in past the far post.
Nixa 2, Glendale 1
First Half Glendale—Drianna Raff, assisted by Kasey Opfer Nixa—Payton DeHart, assisted by Alyson Galler
Second Half Nixa—Shalynn Thomas, assisted by Payton DeHart
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