Sweet second period extends Cats’ season
De Soto soccer coach Darren Erpelding said it'll take his team's best game to survive another round in the Class 5A-1A regional tournament.
The good news, he said, is that he knows their bestgame still looms within the group. The question: will it rear its head Thursday as the 11-6 Wildcats travel to take on a talented St. James squad?
"They're one of the two best teams we've played this year," Erpelding said. "We haven't played our best game, so it's still in there."
De Soto made it through the first round of the regional tournament Tuesday as it beat Basehor-Linwood, 4-0. Danielle Price put one in the back of the net in the first half, but De Soto really didn't find its rhythm until the second period.
"We played sloppy in the first half and we weren't doing things we usually do," Erpelding said. "Basehor's a dangerous team with Jessica Smith. She's scored in every game we've played against them."
The Cats managed to keep Smith under wraps and finally got its own offense purring.
Price added a second goal in the second 40 minutes. Nicole Radcliffe and Jeni Hill also each scored once while Carly Stanley picked up two assists.
"We made some adjustments. We switched the ball and quit playing through balls and attacked the offsides trap better," Erpelding said. "They did everything I asked them to do and we were able to put three away."
Erpelding said he hopes Tuesday's second half is the start of an offensive surge that could carry his team to the regional final game.
Recent evidence would certainly seem to support him. The Cats have been dead-on from the field recently. Their current four-game winning streak has seen the team notch seven goals on two different occasions. All together, they've outscored opponents 22-1 over the last 320 minutes of action.
"It's coming together," Erpelding said. "I didn't think we'd get shutout at all this year, but we got shutout three times. Now it's coming together. We're on a roll."
De Soto's defense will also be pressed Thursday against St. James. The Cat defenders wilted to the tune of four goals and 17 shots the first time the teams met.
The defense will also be able to pull some encouragement from its recent performance. With shutouts in three of the last four games, the unit is as hot as it's been all season.
Several shots came close Tuesday against Basehor. Goalie Megen Bedford was in position to stop a hard strike that ricocheted off the cross bar, and later in the first half was barely able to reach out and tuck away a loose ball right in front of the De Soto net.
Though a few more shots were close in the second half, Erpelding said the theme for both periods was limiting opportunities.
"We controlled the second half pretty much like we did the first half," Erpelding said. "Ashley Williams played outstanding. I put her on the right side to mark up Smith, and she did a great job.
"The defense just overall played well."
He didn't hesitate to say both his offense and defense played well against Basehor. He also didn't hesitate to point out it'll take that much and more to get past St. James.
"They're so good," he said. "We're on a little bit of a roll, and if we can go into St. James and get a win there, we'll be able to beat anyone.
"We can play with anyone, now we just need to start beating these teams."