The Bulldogs of Rolla HS came to town last night and with their 4-1 win over the Glendale Falcons, positioned themselves as the likely Ozarks Conference Champions. Rolla maintained their unbeaten record in the Conference by jumping out to a 2-0 lead with goals in the 4th and 7th minutes. Both goals came against the run of play, as Glendale was working very hard and pushing into the Rolla end consistently. Showing calm under fire, Rolla got their first on a breakaway by Kelsey McFarland
(Autumn McEachern I’m guessing, I was still setting up my camera) and the second, by Sophie Cox, when GHS was unable to get the ball out of their end following a corner kick. Sophie got off a crisp right footed shot from inside the box that handcuffed the keeper.
Glendale continued to press forward and got within one when senior Raven Haik scored her first goal of the seaon in the 14th minute. The goal came off an assist by Lorin Opfer, a freshman MF, who crossed a ball into the six yard box after first winning two 50/50 balls, one outside the box and the 2nd inside the box, after Rolla was unable to clear an earlier cross by Lauren Bettlach. Raven calmly slotted the ball into the far side of the net as she anticipated the pass well. The play was begun by Opfer after winning another 50/50 ball in the center of the field, slotting the ball to the far right side for Bettlach to run onto and send in the initial cross. Lorin was later hurt following a collision and hard landing, leaving before the end of the first half with a well wrapped collarbone if I had to guess.
The second half opened with another early goal by Rolla in the 43rd minute on a header by Sophie Cox, her second goal of the match. Sophie was able to meet the ball and direct it the back half of the net and over the keepers head. The goal came on a corner kick earned after an early run into the box by Autumn McEachern. The final margin came on a goal by Autumn that was started when Sopie won a 50/50 ball in the center of the field and found Kelsey McFarland on the left side. Kelsey slotted a pass into Autumn at the top of the 20 yard circle, she turned 180 degrees on the ball, beat two defenders on the dribble into the box and got the shot off to beat an onrushing third defender and the keeper for her second on the evening.
Whether it’s a function of Mike Howard’s coaching model or it is representative of the type of players coming out of Rolla these days, the Bulldogs have recently had strong direct teams. The boys beat GHS in the District Finals last November on four set plays. Mike has Autumn McEachern and Kelsey McFarland providing strong forward play, supported in the middle by captains Sophie Cox and Rachel Moore and Rebecca Blum providing strong central defense as well as another target on set plays. The junior class at Rolla should defend their District Championship of 2004. I would also anticipate a rematch against Kickapoo in the Sectional match on May 24th.
The game was reminiscent of the Kickapoo Shoot Out match Glendale played against Jackson with their strong direct play. While GHS lost 1-2 in that match, it appears that Coach Rogers has made some changes that were very positive. His team is heavily weighted to a strong incoming freshman class including the aforementioned Lorin Opfer as well as Jamie Bond, Megan Garrard and Ashleigh Dallas, all of whom are getting significant minutes. The sophomore class features Mindy Neal, Lauren Bettlach and goalkeeper Laura McElroy and should offer plenty of competition to the Ozarks Conference for the next few years.
The JV match was won by the Glendale Falcons, 2-1.