Lady Bobcats’ soccer squad off to fast start
The Basehor-Linwood girls soccer team didn't miss a beat in the offseason.
Coming off a momentum-building season in which they doubled their previous season's win total, the Lady 'Cats dominated their first two games of the season.
BLHS opened at Cair Paravel on March 15. The Lady 'Cats controlled the tempo of the game from the outset and easily won, 5-2.
"It went really well, especially for the beginning of the season," coach Kevin Vincent said. "We did a lot of things very well. As a whole, the players we needed to step up stepped up."
Jessica Smith, the team's star and a first-team all-state selection last season, began the year in style by netting three goals.
"She gave us the offensive explosion that we needed," Vincent said.
BLHS had its home opener on March 27 against Harmon. The Lady 'Cats defended their home turf in style, dominating the Lady Hawks 6-0.
"It was one of those games that we felt we were in control of throughout the game," Vincent said. "We played unselfishly and spread the ball well."
Goaltender Kori Roberts recorded the shutout. The defensive effort was stellar, and Roberts did not face many shots on goal.
"She did well with the couple of opportunities that she had," Vincent said.
Shanna Couch scored two of BLHS's goals. Smith added two of her own.
Last Thursday the team traveled to De Soto and did so without their coach. Vincent was away at conferences and handed the keys over to assistant coach Jaclyn Naster.
BLHS led 1-0 at halftime, but suffered through a sluggish second half and lost its first game of the season 3-2.
"I think we started off real strong and I think once we scored our first goal we let down a little," Naster said. "(De Soto's) confidence went up and our play stayed stagnant. We rested on our one goal too long."
De Soto tied the game early in the second half and took the lead with 18 minutes left on a corner kick.
The Lady 'Cats tied the game with 10 minutes to go. De Soto scored on another corner kick a couple of minutes later to take the lead for good.
"After they scored (their final goal), the majority of the rest of the game was played on their end with us pounding away at their goal," Naster said. "We had a couple good shots that their keeper stopped. We tried; we worked our butts off."
Smith scored both BLHS goals to up her season total to seven in three games.
"She is so dynamic on offense that whenever she gets the ball, something good is going to happen," Naster said. "(De Soto) knew we were going to get her the ball. We were too dependent on her. The whole team needed to step up."
The Lady 'Cats were done in by their inability to stop the corner kick. Naster said that statistically one in seven corner kicks is converted for a goal. De Soto scored on two of its five attempts.
"Their corner kicks are deadly," Naster said.
Naster believes the biggest difference between this year's team and last year's version is maturity.
"I think they have all matured as players," Naster said. "It is more mature soccer. It isn't 'shoot the ball and chase it.' They are playing more strategically. We have become more serious about it. Soccer is growing in this city. People are taking it more seriously, including the girls. They are going on the field to have fun, but they are also going out to win."
Next up, the Bobcats will travel to Imac on Tuesday, April 10. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m.