Split down the middle
Cats, Jaguars square off
For much of Monday's soccer game between district rivals De Soto and Mill Valley, it looked as if it would be business as usual.
Mill Valley, which dispatched the Wildcats earlier in the year by a 3-1 margin, jumped out to a 3-0 lead and appeared to be on its way to a three- or four-goal win.
But the Wildcats rallied, tying the game in regulation and sending it into overtime. After two scoreless overtime periods, the game ended in a 4-4 draw.
Up until Mill Valley took its 3-0 advantage, the Jaguars outshot De Soto by a 21-7 margin. The Wildcats had only one shot on goal in the first 20 minutes of the second half.
But then something happened. The Wildcats showed an offensive surge they hadn't shown until recently.
De Soto scored 10 goals the past two games and looks to be peaking at the right time.
"We've been showing a lot of improvement the past two games," said De Soto coach Mike Murphy. "Our communication has been much better. We're also moving and passing the ball better than we were before."
After Dominic Rosner lobbed a shot over Wildcat goal keeper Harley Mostaffa's head, making the score 3-0 in favor of the Jaguars with 20:35 left in the game, De Soto went to work.
The Wildcats outshot Mill Valley 6-1 during the next eight minutes and cut the margin to 3-2.
Kyle Bray got in the scoring column for De Soto with 19:17 remaining in the game when he put the ball in the left corner of the net.
Jesse Smith then worked some magic when he scored two goals in just more than a seven minute span later in the half.
He narrowed the gap to 3-2 when he ripped a shot into the right corner of the net with 16:56 remaining in the game.
Smith then made a new game of it when he found the net from the left wing with just less than 10 minutes left in regulation.
But the Jaguars got a break when De Soto goalkeeper Mostaffa came out of the net, and Jaguar junior Josh Pingleton scored, giving Mill Valley a 4-3 advantage with just less than three minutes left.
A goal from the left side of the box by Bray, with 2:14 remaining in regulation, secured the sudden-death periods.
Neither team could generate much offense in the extra periods as the defenses stiffened. Mill Valley outshot De Soto 3-2 in the overtime as the game ended in the 4-4 tie.
Mill Valley cranked up its offense in the first half by out-shooting the Wildcats 16-6 and scoring a pair of goals. Jag Sophomore Tommy Fitzgerald got it all started in the 17th minute of the game with his lone goal. Senior Dominic Rosner scored the first of two goals more than a minute-and-a-half later, giving the Jaguars a 2-0 edge at the half.
"We've been talking to the players all season about working hard and playing for 80 minutes," Murphy said of his halftime speech. "And we told them that at halftime, too. If you don't worry about the score until the end of the game, the score will take care of itself."
Wildcat goalkeeper Mostaffa was credited with 15 saves during the game. His counterpart Blake Hardwick spoiled five Wildcat shots for the Jaguars.
De Soto, 8-4-1, is at home Thursday against Tonganoxie and Basehor-Linwood Monday. Mill Valley, 11-0-2, travels to Kansas City Harmon Thursday and is home Tuesday for Shawnee Heights.