The Rolla girls soccer team (1-1-1) hosted their annual RHS Soccer Tournament on Friday and Saturday, Mar. 17 and 18. The Lady Bulldogs faced off against Borgia, Springfield Catholic and Northwest Cedar Hill. Rolla got their offense rolling in their first game against Borgia, but it was defensive battles for the rest of the weekend.
The Lady Bulldogs started the tournament against Borgia and got right down to business on the offense end. They scored two first half goals in the game, both were assisted by Addy Brow. The first was by Morgan Phenix before Arianna Stansilawski pushed the lead to 2-0 win 4:22 left in the half. Elsa Wise then netted her first goal of the season on an assist by Michelle Kean midway through the second half to push the lead to 3-0. Rolla was rock solid on the defensive end and Kelly Cates posted her first shutout of the season in net to finish off a 3-0 victory to open the tournament.
After that, the Lady Bulldogs struggled to score. Defense was the name of the game in each of their remaining games. Rolla's second contest of the weekend was against Springfield Catholic and that contest was all defense. Neither team scored in the match and Cates earned her second shutout of the weekend in the scoreless draw.
Rolla wrapped up the weekend against Northwest. The match was largely played in the middle of the pitch, as both teams struggled to make consistent runs. Rolla had a few decent chances, but was never able to get a good look at the net. Cates wasn't able to continue her shutout streak, as a slight fluke on the defensive end led to a goal for Northwest. Rolla attempted to clear out a ball on the defensive end in the second half, but launched it out of bounds. Northwest had a long throw in and was able to score off the opportunity. Other than that, the Lady Bulldogs locked things down on the defensive end for the entire contest. Addy Brow nearly launched a long game-tying goal as the clock hit zero, but the shot went over the crossbar.
Overall, the weekend went pretty as expected for head coach Mike Howard, though he was surprised that his forwards weren't able to find the back of the net.
"I mean, it's the exact same record that we had last, the exact results against the same teams, so I'm not surprised," said coach Howard. "I am surprised that we played three games and our forwards didn't score a goal. That's shocking to me. I'm happy that we got two shutouts...clearly we have some work to do when we fall behind trying to come forward to score a goal. I have a feeling this is gonna be one of those seasons where we can't get behind. We're gonna have to score first and try to manage games."
Howard thinks that he may need to switch things up to spark things on the offensive end throughout the season, but he also noted that they don't need to be in panic mode three games into the season.
"My first guess is that we have people in the wrong spots, I would think," said coach Howard. "We put Gonzo (Olivia Gonzles) up there the last 20 minutes of that game (against Northwest) and she did phenomenal up top, created some great chances. I don't know, it's just something where we'll have to get back to practice and see what we can do, but it's a tough weekend, all of those are good teams. 1-1-1 is exactly where we were at last year, it's not time to panic or anything, but we're gonna have to make some changes."
Howard is also really liking what he's seeing out of his new keeper so far in the season.
"I thought Kelly had a great weekend, especially against Catholic last night," said coach Howard. "She made two incredible saves to keep the game tied."
Rolla was also able to fold in a lot of their younger players this weekend, which is crucial to do early in the season.
"The freshmen that we played are very athletic and played very tough," said Howard. "They're good soccer players and they'll be a big part of our team this season for sure."
The Lady Bulldogs will stay at home for their next few games, starting with a matchup against Republic on Tuesday, Mar. 21.