Slow start dooms Cape Central girls soccer in 3-1 loss to district foe Farmington

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Cape Central's Mattie Huff, left, is congratulated by Calli House after kicking a goal against Farmington during the first half Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at Cape Central High School.
Fred Lynch

For a second straight night, the Cape Central girls soccer team learned it will need to be better if it wants to compete for a district title.

Twenty-four hours after dropping a one-goal game to rival Sikeston, the Tigers matched or out-played Farmington, another district foe, for much of the game, only to be haunted by a rough first 20 minutes, as they fell 3-1 to the Golden Knights on Wednesday at Cape Girardeau Central High School.

Central (6-6-1) was too passive to open the game and found itself down 2-0 after just 18 minutes. That the Tigers tilted the field the rest of the first half or generated chances in the second wasn't enough to turn the game.

"I thought the first 20 or 25 minutes we came out a little bit sluggish," Central coach Jared Dobbs said. "They got that quick opening goal, but I thought my girls really fought well, especially that last 50 or 60 minutes. I thought we won the game in that last 60 minutes. I don't think the score is indicative of the game."

Farmington's Elizabeth Sutherland, left, and Cape Central's Calli House fight for possession during the second half Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at Cape Central High School.
Fred Lynch

Farmington (5-5) got its first goal from Riley Turner in the 10th minute before Elayna Roberts doubled the advantage, 2-0, in the 17th minute.

Mattie Huff cut the deficit in half seconds before the halftime break with a 40th-minute goal off a corner kick, on an assist from Calli House, but the Tigers couldn't put away chances in the second half and the Knights extended their lead on a 67th-minute own goal.

Central nearly equalized in the 54th minute when it got numbers into the attack and had a shot from right midfielder Emily Webb from about 22 yards out ring off the crossbar. Huff followed up on the rebound and saw her shot come off the crossbar.

It was the Tigers' best opportunity to score -- and even the score -- in the final 40 minutes.

"We have to continue to put ourselves in opportunities to score," Dobbs said. "We're not going to put all of our shots on frame. We're going to have some come off the post. But we have to keep battling and working in the final third (of the field)."

While the final score favored the visitors, the run of play often did not, though Farmington did generate its fair share of chances.

The Knights dictated the early stages of the game, applying high defensive pressure out of its 4-3-3 formation, keeping the outside backs high up the field and pinning Central back. During the 18-minute stretch that saw Farmington take its 2-0 lead, it out-shot Central 7-0.

But the Tigers got more aggressive stepping to the ball and began to flip things in their favor. The final 19 minutes of the first half saw the hosts out-shoot Farmington 6-0.

"I just think we picked up the intensity, really," Dobbs said. "We started playing to feet, started connecting passes. We had a lot of opportunities in the final third; we had two come off the post back to back, but those are the breaks. We have to put a complete game together against a quality opponent."

Central's first good chance of the match came in the 27th minute, with House playing a long diagonal pass through the back line to Huff, but the sophomore's rolling shot skipped wide of the far post.

Huff forced a save from Knight goalkeeper Rachel Turner in the 39th minute when she pushed in on the right side and put a shot on at the near post. That led to a corner kick in the dying seconds of the first half, which House sent to the far post. Huff chested the ball across the goal line for a 2-1 score at the half.

The teams traded attacking pressure in the second half, but less than 10 minutes after Central struck the bar twice in a matter of seconds, Farmington put the game away.

Farmington's Elayna Roberts kicks the second goal of the game against Cape Central goalie Kathleen Kinder during the first half Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at Cape Central High School.
Fred Lynch

Knights forward Sophie Boyer, who took on the Tiger back line in 1-on-1 situations all night, put a free kick on frame from 31 yards out. The initial shot wasn't trying, but when Central keeper Kathleen Kinder knocked it away the ball came back at goal off the head of a Tigers defender.

It was the second time that Farmington caused trouble simply by getting the ball on goal. The Knights' second goal of the game came off a corner kick that Kinder got her hands on but couldn't control, and with no near-post defender clearing the loose ball Roberts was able to run on and clean it up into the back of the net.

Kinder finished with five saves on the day.

Farmington had a slight edge in shots, 12-10, and corner kicks, 3-2.

The visitors' opening strike came when Turner turned on the ball about 27 yards from goal, found herself in space and struck the ball cleanly into the upper right corner of the goalmouth.

Central will try to bounce back when it travels to Murphrysboro (Ill.) on Friday.

"We just have to keep trusting in the process and believing in ourselves and the team," Dobbs said.

[Editor's note: Adjustment made to correct Central's win-loss record]

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