In the first meeting with Smithville this season, Kearney junior Allie Hess waited 77 minutes to provide the tie-breaking goal for the Bulldogs.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
She wasn’t so patient in a playoff format.
Hess needed only 21 minutes Tuesday to break a scoreless tie. After intercepting a pass in the midfield, she froze the Smithville defense and keeper Jordon Lewis with a bullet into the upper left corner of the net. Kearney freshman Ashley Coonfield added another goal in the second half, lifting Kearney to a 2-0 victory in a Missouri Class 2 sectional matchup.
The Bulldogs, who remain unbeaten at 25-0, will travel to face Notre Dame de Sion on Saturday. The starting time is yet to be announced.
“I saw a girl up in front of me, so I knew I didn’t have much time to get a shot off,” Hess said. “I had to make a quick decision, and I got the ball to go right where I wanted it to go.”
While it was an early tally, Hess’ blast from 20 yards away supplied the beginning of a large shift in momentum.
Smithville, the decided underdog, controlled the pace of the game for the better part of the opening minutes, earning three corner kicks in the first four minutes.
But the Warriors failed to implement quality chances on goal in any of those opportunities in the face of a Kearney defense noted for its combination of speed and tenacity.
“You’re taking possession of the ball, and then (Hess) just hits a bomb — that’s just a great shot, and you have to give her credit,” Smithville coach Jon Reed said. “It definitely deflated us. We were playing well in the first five minutes, but we never could really get a clean shot off.”
Riding the momentum, Kearney regained its possession-oriented style. And after a quick series of second-half chances, Coonfield extended the Bulldogs’ advantage to a much more comfortable margin with a perfectly-placed kick into the right corner of the net. Coonfield denied a Smithville clearance attempt, turned and quickly fired her shot into the cage for a 2-0 lead.
Kearney limited Smithville to only three shots on goal.
“It tends to take us a while to take control and play our type of game,” Kearney coach Jackie Haller said. “Allie’s goal certainly calmed me down. It did for the girls, too. It let us play more under control, which is the style we’re going to have to play because it won’t get easier from here.”
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