Cats overcome drizzle for 1-0 win
It wasn't as cold as the calendar would indicate, but a consistent drizzle that seemed to ever be on the verge of legitimate rainfall threatened to make the De Soto soccer team's Senior Night miserable.
It was a junior, however, that ensured both that the seniors would go out the right way and that wet socks and soggy blue jeans wouldn't make for a dismal evening.
Zach England scored the only goal Monday night as the Wildcats held off Kansas City Turner, 1-0. The win was important for a lot of reasons -- it pushed De Soto above .500 again, could be crucial in determining regional seeds and was the most recent evidence that De Soto did truly turn its season around two weeks ago when it snapped a five-game losing streak.
But Cat senior Riley Pierce said on an ugly night that saw both teams hamstrung by the conditions, that all took a backseat and simply coming away with the win was big, regardless of what it means in the long run.
"It feels good to come out with a win in these conditions," Pierce said. "It's a lot harder. The ball plays a lot faster. We had a few opportunities that on dry ground it would have been a different outcome, but we're happy."
Both teams seemed to adopt different plans of attack and both missed on a number of close shots that could have drastically affected play. In the end, it was De Soto's hard-kicking style that won out, however.
The Cats seemed to find plenty of shot opportunities in both the first and the second halves, but every shot seemed aimed directly at the Turner keeper. The Cats kicked hard and often and time and time again he blunted the attacks with his chest.
Finally England found a hole, and he put De Soto on top with 14 minutes, two seconds remaining in the first half. Again a powerful shot smashed right into the goalie, but rather being corralled by his hands or falling to his feet, it ricocheted off his chest and into the net.
"We played extremely well in the first half and on a dry field, we could easily have been up by three or four," coach Darren Erpelding said. "Then in the second half, we withstood. They upped their level of play and we were really playing not to lose."
De Soto never seemed far from putting the game out of reach with a second goal, but Turner was never far from tying the game up either, and several balls rolled sweat-inducingly close to undefended portions of De Soto's goal.
Wildcat goalie Jake Sosna picked up a pair of saves in the game's first five minutes, then watched helplessly as three separate Turner headers just missed. All three were played across the goal by attackers very deep in the box, and all three appeared to miss the far post by fewer than 18 inches.
But miss they did, and improve to 8-7 De Soto has. The Cats also improved their record Thursday, getting a 3-2 win over Louisburg to even their record.
Those two games, combined with the Turner win, give De Soto a 4-1 record over its last five.
"That five-game losing streak hurt us, but we've rebounded," Pierce said. "Hopefully we can play here for the first game of regionals now.
"We're very improved. We're playing a lot better as a team and we know each other's tendencies a lot better."
The Cats have just one game left and no one plans of taking that day off -- De Soto has never lost to Eudora and Pierce said he doesn't intend on being on the first team that does.
After Thursday's regular season finale, the team will begin regional play. The Cats' recent surge has likely earned them a first-round home game.
Regional action begins Tuesday.