Flat start leaves Cats licking wounds after two games
Danielle Price slid on the grass near Kansas City Piper's goal, knocking the ball free from a cluster of defenders. It rolled right into the net.
The goal came early in what was a furious second-half De Soto rally. Three shots had come before, two being corralled by Piper's goalie and the third falling just right of an open end of the net.
Two more shots came afterward, one being stopped and the second grazing the crossbar as it sailed just too high.
Finally Nicole Radcliff made close count. She hammered a Price indirect kick past a stunned keeper, again lighting up the scoreboard 10 minutes after Price had first scored.
For those 10 minutes, De Soto played great.
The rest of the game was a different story, however. The Cats hot streak wasn't enough to overcome a lackluster first-half effort and De Soto (0-1-1) lost its first game of the season, falling at Piper, 5-2.
"We just didn't want to play today," Wildcat coach Darren Erpelding said. "We decided to play that 10 minutes, and we got two goals. We just came out very, very flat."
The Cats were flat and nearly lifeless from the start, but a controversial call may have also aided in dampening De Soto's spirit.
Piper jumped up 1-0 early in the first half and De Soto appeared to tie it, booting the ball into an open net. The Cats were all the way back to the middle of the field and still celebrating before they realized the goal had been called off because of an offsides penalty.
After a frustrating 0-0 tie in the season opener against Cair Paravel last week, a sleepwalking start to the game and the first sign of success being waved off by an official, the aggravation hit new levels.
"It might have changed the completion of the game," Erpelding said, reflecting on the effect the goal would have had. "When they got that early goal, we got down. When we had that one taken away, it affected our psyche a little bit."
Piper scored again in the first, and added two quick goals in the second, but the Cats' effort was much better in the latter period.
De Soto managed just two shots on goal in the first half and got off 11 in the second. The 10-minute stretch netted the Cats two goals, and Piper briefly appeared within reach.
"We put a lot more pressure on them in the second half. In the first half, I don't know where it was," Erpelding said. "We were a step slow on everything. We just think our speeds going to take care of everything. We haven't gotten to 100 percent yet."
De Soto will have little time to dwell on its disappointing start. The Cats host Immaculata at 5 p.m. Thursday at home, then play again Friday, hosting Topeka High at 5 p.m.
"We've got to turn around. We don't have any time," Erpelding said. "We have to flat out come out and play. Hopefully being at home will help."