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The game was dominated by Bolivar from the beginning, as Branson’s age and inexperience played a big role in the first half, where Bolivar scored three crucial goals by McKenzie Lesh, Hannah Sheppeck and Kaylee Shrauger to jumpstart their offensive momentum.
Branson coach Dave Brenner made adjustments at halftime, where his team came out with a new mindset and more confidence.
“We’re still learning,” said Brenner. “We’ve put in a whole new system down here; we’ve completely changed what the girls have known for three years. We are playing a lot of sophomores and juniors in their first year of experience.”
The second half was dominated by Bolivar, but the Lady Pirates threatened Bolivar goalkeeper Sammy Jacobson as she stopped four shots.
The lone goal in the latter half was scored by Bolivar junior, Emma Samek.
“I’m really pleased with how we played tonight,” said Bolivar head coach Jeff Edge. “Everybody’s in the same situation, we’ve been playing in a gym all week due to weather, we’re used to a basketball court instead of a soccer field right now. Honestly, it probably took us 20 or 30 minutes to just get used to the dimensions of the field.”
The field was sloped in Bolivar’s direction much of the night, due to the Lady Liberators’ physical style of play.
“I think we played well,” said Bolivar senior Abby Martin. “We passed the ball and we were aggressive. I like being aggressive. We aren’t necessarily more physical, but we were trying to get the ball, so you do what you’ve got to do.”
“Bolivar is a really good team,” said Branson senior Kami Giese. “Much of our team is young, and I like teaching them, helping them out and seeing them get better. As a senior, it’s a lot of fun and being a captain is a big honor.”
“I told the girls tonight, we didn’t just take that next step forward, we took a jump forward,” said Brenner. “We don’t have a lot of girls here involved in club soccer. They don’t understand the physicality of a varsity game until they actually experience it in a game. It’s a new world for them.”
Bolivar claimed their second shut-out win of the year, having defeated Mt. Vernon 9-0 in their first game of the year.
“We really try to pressure and play hard, we’re of the opinion that playing hard covers a multitude of sins,” said Edge. “We still want to respect the opponent, by all means, but we definitely do try to play hard. We’ve got a really good defensive group, and we love shut-outs. That’s the future of Liberator soccer and they held that shut-out. I’m more proud of that than anything.”
Bolivar 4, Branson 0
Bolivar–McKenzie Lesh (Shyan Floyd assist)
Bolivar—Hannah Sheppeck (Kaylie Rothdeiner assist)
Bolivar—Kaylee Shrauger (Elizabeth Harris assist)
Bolivar—Emma Samek (Abby Martin assist)