Soccer searching for first win
For more than two hours Tuesday night De Soto and Gardner Edgerton went back and forth, toiling to score a goal, just one, in any way possible.
But neither team did, and De Soto moved to 0-1-1 on the year with a 0-0 tie on the road. From coach Darren Erpelding's perspective, it was a better performance than his team's 2-3 loss to Spring Hill March 13.
"If we give that effort on Thursday (March 13), that game is not even close, because that's a better team than we faced Thursday. Effort was outstanding tonight," Erpelding said. "All 15 or 16 girls that played tonight did an outstanding job."
Erpelding adjusted his starting lineup Tuesday and gave Kelsey Fisher the starting nod at the center-mid position. In the Wildcats first game it was sometimes unclear who was playing the position and Danielle Price oftentimes was on an island in the middle of the defense.
"Kelsey is a basketball player, so she understands the defensive side. She's going to do a lot of the work defensively so Danielle can do more of the offensive work," Erpelding said. "Kelsey did a fantastic job in the middle tonight, she just played solid."
De Soto had 12 shots on goal for the night, but none found a way into the net.
"We moved the ball and hustled really well," Price said. "We just couldn't put the ball in the net."
The closest anybody came, for either team, was when attacker Nicole Radcliffe got a breakaway in the second overtime. Radcliffe was unable to get much space throughout the game, as Gardner marked her all night and seldom let her get possession of the ball.
Price got a tackle at around the 4-minute mark and passed the ball to Radcliffe, who outran the opposition to the Gardner goalkeeper. With defenders right on her heels, she unleashed a shot that was out of reach of the goalkeeper but it hit the side bar of the goal.
"I thought it was going to go in, but it hit the pole," Radcliffe said. "It was pretty upsetting."
Erpelding was even more convinced the shot was in. As the ball left Radcliffe's foot, Erpelding began walking out to midfield to shake hands with the opponent. To his dismay and disbelief, he had to remain on the sideline for 3 minutes and 20 seconds more while time expired.
"I couldn't believe it," he said. "I thought it was side-netting easy and then all of the sudden it comes bouncing out."
The other close call came at the 8 minute, 35 second mark when Price had a free kick from about 40 yards out. She hit the ball squarely, and sent it lofting towards the center of the net, but the ball flew a foot over the cross bar and the score remained tied.
On the defensive end, De Soto saw the return of its starting goalkeeper, Jamie Zvirgdins, who missed the first game for a band trip.
"It was nice to have our goalie back," Radcliffe said. "We stepped up our defense and we talked really well."
Zvirgdins preserved the lead almost single-handedly in the second period. With 16 minutes, 13 seconds left in regulation, a Blazers player crossed the ball in front of the net to a teammate, who headed the ball at the Wildcats' goal.
Zvirgdins made the save but the ball popped out in front of the net and another Gardner player hit a rocket that Zvirgdins denied and, yet again, the ball rebounded hard to a Blazers player.
This time it took a diving save to preserve the lead but Zvirgdins managed it. After the final shot was denied Carly Stanley got to the rebound and cleared the ball which took the heat off the De Soto goal.
"Jamie saved us on that play," Erpelding said. "Basically, Jamie was the only one that did anything on that play because everybody else kind of watched."
Stanley was one reason Erpelding felt comfortable with the team's defense in the game. An adjustment made shortly after halftime of the Spring Hill game apparently stuck, and Stanley was positioned at the rear of the defense at the sweeper position.
"She has to stay back there," Erpelding said. "She may not be overly happy about it but she has to stay there. After tonight I feel very comfortable on the defensive end."
The next game for De Soto is a March 27 match at Basehor-Linwood.
"If we play as hard as we did tonight and keep up with making our offense and defense better I think we have a great chance of beating them," Radcliffe said.