Ripping the nets
After a rough start to the season, the BLHS Lady Bobcats’ soccer squad
In just 12 days the Basehor-Linwood soccer team went from a 2-5-1 team searching for answers to a 7-5-2 squad brimming with confidence. The Lady Bobcats finished a stretch of six games between April 19 and May 3 with five wins, a tie and a new lease on their season.
The past week saw the offense explode in a 7-1 victory over Immaculata and a 4-1 thrashing of St. Joseph Benton, a Missouri team that won its district last year. The Lady Bobcats ran their winning streak to five in the home game against the Lady Cardinals from St. Joseph. Their starting forwards, Audrey Brock and Jessica Smith, dominated the game, each finishing with two goals. Smith's two gave her nine goals in a four-game stretch, a torrid pace against quality opponents like Piper and Benton.
"Any time she has the ball she's a threat to score," BLHS coach Kevin Vincent said of Smith. "She's a fun player to watch because you never know what she's going to do."
Against Benton on Monday, Brock and Smith shocked the Lady Cardinals with two early goals that put them in a big hole. The game was hardly a runaway, though, as Benton matched BLHS in shots on goal with 16.
In a foul-filled first half, the Bobcats' defense was able to successfully repel a number of free kicks, but one got by in the 32nd minute. The Lady Cardinals' top forward buried a kick from 30 yards out, the only shot to beat BLHS goalie Kori Roberts all day.
The Lady Bobcats got the goal back five minutes later when they broke free for a three-on-one opportunity. Brock carried the ball into the right side of the box and fired it high off the keeper's hands. Smith collected the rebound on the left side and knocked it into the open net.
The Bobcats went into halftime with a 3-1 lead, but Roberts had to make several brave stops in traffic and Vincent knew the score could have been different.
"They were playing three forwards and we weren't used to that," he said. "In the second half we started to talk more and make the adjustments we needed to make."
Despite the three-forward lineup, the Bobcats' defense and Roberts kept the Cardinals out of the net for the rest of the game. BLHS then slammed the door in the 55th minute with a pretty pass by Shanna Couch. Couch, who controlled the midfield throughout much of the recent winning streak, threaded a cross from the left side over to Brock on the right. The Benton keeper tried to come out and scoop it up, but couldn't handle it cleanly. Brock swept the ball to the outside and blasted it into the open net.
The victory gave the Lady 'Cats a five-game winning streak going into Tuesday's match-up with De Soto. That was a revenge game, since the Wildcats had won 4-2 at Basehor on April 11. The Bobcats' revenge was incomplete, though as they could only manage a 1-1 draw. The all-important tying goal was scored by Shae Sawalich after a BLHS corner kick.
After going undefeated in their last six games the Bobcats appear primed for a postseason run. They have two difficult opponents left in Piper on Thursday and Mill Valley on Tuesday that should give them an idea of how they stack up against some of the area's best.
"Right now it's that old cliche, 'the sky's the limit' for this team," Vincent said. "On any given night if we play the way we're capable, I honestly don't think there's anybody we can't compete with."
The Lady Bobcats face Piper at home Thursday, with the varsity kicking off about 6 p.m. They finish up the regular season at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Mill Valley.