The Pershing General’s returned to the winner’s circle this evening, following a three year absence, by defeating the Nixa Eagle’s 2-1. The Eagles opened the scoring in the 8th minute when #43 pounced on a loose ball that was mishandled by the goalkeeper. Unlike the last meeting between these two teams in early May, when Nixa won 3-2 after opening a 3-0 lead, the General’s comeback did not fall short.
Pershing’s first goal was scored Kasey Opfer on a second chance opportunity, when an initial shot hit the upright and came back out into play. That goal in the 21st minute sent the teams to halftime tied and drenched as a cold rain became coming down midway through the half. It was beginning to look like overtime, especially when with 7 minutes remaining Allie’s direct kick from the right side of the penalty area was somehow kept out by Pershing’s keeper.
The decisive blow was struck by Olivia Wolfram in the 68th minute (70 minute games). A diagonal ball from Pershing’s defensive end sent Wolfram towards goal in a foot-race with Nixa’s defense. Two key decisions by Wolfram, first a simple cut back towards goal that turned her defender and created space just outside the box and more importantly, a simple controlled shot to the far post that hit the upright and bounced into the back of the net. A lesson well-learned in patience after I saw her miss 4 or 5 similar opportunities the previous week in the semifinal win over Cherokee. A quick celebration, two minutes of frenzied defending as Nixa pushed for the equalizer and the game was over.
Tonight’s loss was the third straight for the Eagles in the Championship game. The results of that consistent level of play can be seen in their older ‘sisters’ results at Nixa High School. The next step will be finding it in themselves to get past Pershing/Glendale. They accomplished that with Catholic and Kickapoo the past two years. One more larger goal to achieve.
In the JV1 Final that preceded this game, the Bolivar Liberators won 8-0 over the Willard Tigers on six goals scored by #19
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