St. Pius X girls soccer coach Todd Ashby had high hopes that this would be the year his team got to play for a state championship.
But like the last three years, his hopes were dashed again. Barely.
St. Pius X’s fourth straight trip to the Missouri Class 2 girls state soccer tournament began with another semifinal loss, this time to Cape Girardeau Notre Dame 1-0 Wednesday at Swope Soccer Village. Pius made it to the title game when it began its streak in 2015. And it came close to getting back there in its latest attempt.
“I thought we had a real chance this year to play in that championship game,” Ashby said. “And obviously we did.”
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There was little that separated Pius (19-5-1) and Notre Dame (24-3-1) most of the match. Notre Dame enjoyed an 11-5 shot advantage, but both teams created their share of opportunities around the net. The only difference was that Notre Dame converted one of its chances.
Notre Dame got its goal in the final five minutes of the first half when Megan Heisserer took control of the ball inside the penalty area and made a shot to the near post that just eluded Pius goalkeeper Alaina Malott. It was the only blemish on the night for Malott, who made four tough saves.
“It wasn’t something given to them,” Ashby said. “It was a tough shot. Alaina played the best game she’d ever played before. She really stepped up.”
Pius stepped up its attack late in the second half and came close to finding the equalizer. Kennedy Melcher sent a shot off a corner kick with five minutes left; Sophia Cissell just missed heading in a corner in the final two minutes.
“It was a well-fought match,” Ashby said. “No knock against them. They deserved it. They did a good job.
Pius will meet Pleasant Hill in the third-place match at noon Thursday.
Christian 3, Pleasant Hill 1
Playing catchup was nothing new for Pleasant Hill. But for 78 minutes?
Christian slipped a goal in during the first two minutes and Pleasant Hill never could grab the lead in the Class 2 semifinal.
And it was a tough-luck goal, too. Christian’s Abigail King sent in a free kick from just in front of the penalty area straight at Pleasant Hill goalkeeper Jordan Hoerl. The ball ricocheted off Hoerl’s hands and Christian’s Emily Hanrahan was in position to punch it in.
“They got an easy goal at the beginning of the game that should never been a goal,” Pleasant Hill coach Al Iantorno said. “And then we just chased the game the rest of the time.”
Pleasant Hill (17-9) equalized when Mackenzie Dimarco got loose on a breakaway with three minutes left in the first half.
Dimarco and Pleasant Hill created several opportunities in the second half but couldn’t convert. Christian took the lead for good when King lofted a ball over Hoerl and into the upper net in the 64th minute and sealed it with another goal in the final minute.
St. Vincent 5, Lone Jack 1
St. Vincent scored three first half goals and dominated Lone Jack in a Class 1 semifinal.
Lone Jack didn’t get on the board until Jenna Jordan scored with an assist from Kayda Kamolz in the 41st minute. The Mules were outshot 16-4 in the first half and 26-7 for the game.
Lone Jack (16-3) will play Fatima for third place at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Corrin Carroll scored the first two goals for defending champion St. Vincent (19-6-1), which faces Principia in the championship game.