The Rolla soccer team (8-3-1, 4-0 OC) made the quick drive down 44 for a Ozark Conference matchup with Waynesville on Tuesday, April 18. Rolla controlled the pace of the game from jump street on their way to a 3-0 victory over their conference rival.
While Rolla controlled the game early on, but couldn't quite find the back of the net. Wayneville had the best scoring opportunity early on one of their few chances near the net. Rolla keeper Kelly Cates had a free kick in the box, but after she launched the kick, the referee said she had placed the ball outside the keeper zone. That gave Waynesville a free kick at the top of the box, but the shot was sailed several feet above the crossbar.
After that early chance, Waynesville only had one solid opportunity to score, clanging a shot off the post. Other than that, the Rolla defense held them from having a shot on goal and the Lady Bulldog offense kept the ball in the Waynesville defensive end.
The first 20 minutes of the first half came and went without a goal by either side, but that changed in the 25th minute. Addy Brow took a pass from Olivia Gonzales, made a contested run down the left side of the pitch and managed to shake a defender long enough to fire a shot on goal. The shot went right past the Waynesville keeper for the first goal of the game.
Brow absolutely dominated the left side of the pitch and she proved that just a minute later when she took a pass from Morgan Gabriele, made another run down the left side and found the back of the net to give the Lady Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. Waynsville made one more small run before the end of the half, but Rolla was able to easily turn away a cross to finish the half with a 2-0 lead.
The entire game was extremely chippy, as matchups between conference foes tend to be, but the physicality came to a head in the second half. Brow had a great chance to cap off her hat-trick in the 50th minute, as she pushed toward the goal with a defender on her tail. As she got within a few feet of the goal, the defender grabbed Brow by the arm and twisted her a bit, leading to an easy stop of her possession. Brow looked for a whistle that never came from the official and Waynesville was spared a goal. After that there were several collisions that saw no call from the head referee. The 55th minute also saw a collision near the goal and it came after a free kick from Brow. The senior fired the ball on net with Gabriele and Gonzales charging the net. The Rolla duo charged into a pair of Waynesville players, including their keeper, and nearly snuck in a goal, but several shots right in front of the net were turned away.
While Brow missed out on her hat-trick in the 50th minute, she was eventually able to convert, but it wasn't easy. Brow had yet another chance in the box off a pass from Ariana Stanislawski in the 68th minute and made a beautiful touch to sneak the ball past the Waynesville keeper for a goal. Unfortunately, a Waynesville defender clipped her heel and she crashed to the ground right next to the post. After a minute on the ground, she was able to walk off the field on her own, but she sat out for the remainder of the game. Her three goals would prove to be enough, however, and the Lady Bulldogs finished off a 3-0 win. While the game was extremely physical, Rolla always seems to respond well to a little body bumping.
"It's just what it is. You come to Waynesville and it's a typical Waynesville game I think," said Rolla head coach Mike Howard. "Our girls don't get too fired up about that stuff, we don't circle games on the calendar or anything, we just go out and play. We have enough good teams on our schedule that if we don't go out and play every game, we're gonna lose."
Brow is one of Rolla's top goal scorers, but she had a streak of several games where she found the posts instead of the goal on a lot of her shots. She's now scored four goals in the span of two games. Coach Howard said it was good for her get going as they hit the heart of their conference schedule, but he wants to see the rest of the offense follow her lead.
"It's good for Addy, but we need to get everybody going with the goals," said Howard. "I think G and Gonzo, G's racking up the assists right now and Gonzo is playing really well underneath those two. I think they're all playing really well. We had several opportunities to finish this game off earlier and have an easier time of it in the second half. Against good teams, we're gonna have to finish those chances. We can't let people hang around us like that."
While the Lady Bulldogs are now 4-0 in the conference, coach Howard knows that they still have a lot of work to do before they can win an Ozark Conference Championship.
"Ya know, 4-0 is a good start in the conference, but we know we've got some difficult games ahead," said Howard. "Camdenton is a tough place to play. We still have Glendale and Kickapoo in that final week of the season. These are have to win games. We have to win the next three conference games to have any shot at all to win conference."
That push in the conference continues with a trip to Camdenton on Thursday, April 20.