Lady ‘Cats learn from loss
Some die-hard coaches insist that there's nothing a team can learn from losing.
That would be a hard argument to make about the Basehor-Linwood girls soccer team's season opener.
The Lady 'Cats lost Tuesday, 8-1 at the hands of a mighty team from Kansas City Christian, but by the end of the game coach Ken Couch had found out plenty about his personnel and his players had figured out how to slow down one of the state's most potent offenses.
The Lady 'Cats hung with KC Christian early, with Sarah Couch patrolling the midfield and helping Basehor keep possession of the ball. But KC Christian used its advantage in athleticism to make quick, effective strikes, sneaking forwards in behind the Basehor defense. Though Basehor was holding its share of the possession, KC Christian's lob and chase strategy was working and a series of breakaways led to a 3-0 lead after the first twenty minutes.
Ken Couch said the early strikes demoralized his team.
"The girls went down in the dumps after they had a few scored on them," Couch said. "That led to a few lapses in our defense."
KC Christian forward Samantha Pool took advantage of those lapses, scoring consecutive goals on breakaways. Pool would finish as the game's top player with four goals, three of them in the first half.
Basehor goalie Ashley Odle stood in against a number of shots from close range, finishing the game with five saves. But Pool's third goal extended KC Christian's lead to 5-0 and chased Odle from goal. She moved onto the field and was replaced in the net by freshman Kori Roberts.
Roberts didn't fare much better than Odle in the first half, allowing two more goals, but gave a stellar performance in the second half.
In fact, the Lady 'Cats, after falling behind 7-0 at halftime, played like a different team in the second half. Ken Couch made a number of decisions that all seemed to work.
He moved Sarah Couch back to defense, put Odle in her place in the midfield and left Roberts in goal. With Sarah Couch anchoring the defense and flanked by Blaine Buck and Amy Williams, the Lady 'Cats had an experienced, physical trio of defenders who were ready to take on the talented KC Christian offense.
Ken Couch's defensive strategy had been to try and use an offsides trap. The trap hadn't worked in the first half and had led to numerous breakaways. But in the second half KC Christian was caught offsides a number of times, and it began to stall their long runs. When they were able to pitch the ball ahead, Sarah Couch was there to clear it away. Ken Couch said the decision to move his daughter, an All-League senior, back to defense, wasn't easy.
"I wanted her to be a scorer for us this year, but she might have to be a defender instead," Ken Couch said.
Odle filled in admirably for Sarah Couch in the midfield, teaming up with fellow seniors Audra Pierce and Jamie Palmer to pressure the KC Christian defense. Odle helped the Lady 'Cats break through with their lone goal early in the second half.
Palmer found the ball at her foot fifteen feet from the goal and lofted what appeared to be a perfect shot over the goalie and into the upper-left corner. But Palmer later said the shot wouldn't have been so perfect without Odle's help.
"Ashley Odle was just kind of in the way and it bounced off her back a little bit and went in," Palmer said.
Though the shot might not have found the net without her ricochet, Odle refused to take any credit for the goal.
"That was all Jamie," Odle said. "I was just in the way."
The goal meant that the Lady 'Cats had played KC Christian, one of the season's toughest opponents, to a 1-1 tie in the second half. Roberts was spectacular in goal in the half, making 12 saves in a performance that Ken Couch said might have won her the starting job.
After the game Couch said he was excited to see how the changes that were so successful after halftime would carry over in the next game. The Lady 'Cats play today at Piper at 4 p.m.