By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Springfield, Mo. — Glendale was hoping for a fast start in Thursday’s Class 3 District 11 title matchup with Willard.
Emma Miller was up to the challenge.
The senior forward scored the first of her two goals just 51 seconds into the match to help propel the Lady Falcons to a 5-1 victory.
As Willard played the opening kick back, Miller and her Glendale teammates pressed forward with numbers.
“They played the ball back, and we just all pressured,” Miller said. “The ball came out, and I just dribbled through three girls, I think. I just saw an opportunity, and I put it in the back of the net.”
With early momentum on its side, Glendale capitalized on a second goal just minutes later in the game’s eighth minute when Reese Hartel’s long crosser found Alexi Martinez right in front of the Willard net.
The Lady Falcons added a third first-half goal in the 16th minute when Miller took advantage of a breakaway down the middle of the field.
For Glendale head coach Jeff Rogers, constant pressure was a key factor in dealing with Willard’s dangerous attack.
“To score 51 seconds in, that really kind of set the tone,” Rogers said. “That’s the kind of start you have to have in the postseason. We talked about wanting to put them under constant pressure early and, to limit or eliminate offensive weapons, you keep teams playing defense.”
Down by three goals, Willard sought to be the early aggressor In the second half.
A strike from Jackie Pence in the opening minutes cut the Glendale lead to 3-1; however, the Lady Tigers were unable to get any closer.
Midway through the second half, Hertel punched another long crosser to Chloe Hamm to recapture Glendale’s momentum and stretch the lead to 4-1.
Freshman Paige Margreiter added a fifth goal for the Lady Falcons in the game’s final seconds.
Hamm’s goal, according to Rogers was critical, as it helped his squad regain its composure. At that half, he warned his players to expect an ultra-aggressive push from Willard in the second.
“At that point, they’re going to put their best offensive players up forward, as opposed to trying to sit them in like they did early in the game,” Rogers said. “Willard has a lot of pride, and they played hard. We kind of lost our composure there, but once we settled back down, we were able to put the game away.”
While Glendale has capture three-straight district titles and has its eyes on another deep postseason run, Rogers stressed the importance of game-by-game details.
“You never take these games for granted,” Rogers said. “They’re hard to win, and there are a lot of good teams already out. Any time you’re winning in the postseason, it’s a positive.”
Glendale now moves on to the state sectional round. The Lady Falcons will host District 12 champion Carl Junction on Tuesday, May 21.
Class 3 District 11 Championship: Glendale – 5, Willard – 1
First half scoring
00:51 Glendale goal – Emma Miller (unassisted)
08:30 Glendale goal – Alexi Martinez (Reese Hertel assist)
16:55 Glendale goal – Emma Miller (unassisted)
Second half scoring
51:32 Willard goal – Jackie Pence (unassisted)
65:52 Glendale goal – Chloe Hamm (Hertel assist)
78:58 Glendale goal – Paige Margreiter (Miller assist)