The Rolla soccer team made the trip to Washington for a rematch with Union in their District opener on Monday, May 15. After a competitive first half, things got out of hand in the second and Union ran away with a 5-1 win.
The Lady Bulldogs managed strike first in the sixth minute of the game. Olivia Gonzales put a shot into the bottom right quarter of the goal while being knocked over, but it was saved by Union's keeper, Alexis Garlock. A foul was called on the play, setting up a Rolla penalty kick, which Ryleigh Grommet buried to give them a 1-0 lead.
After that, it was all Union. Rolla struggled on the defensive end, particularly with clearing the ball out of their defensive zone. They Lady Bulldogs were just a hair off on their touches all night, so passes that normally led to offensive runs turned into turnovers. The Lady Wilcats tied the game in the 10th minute on a cross into the box for an easy touch past Kelly Cates in net. Rolla nearly responded when Morgan Gabriele had a great look in the 14th minute, but Garlock was able to make the save.
Union took the lead for good in the 18th minute when Gianna Gore blew past Allie Pernicka for a free run down the right side of the pitch. She fired a strike past Cates to give Union a 2-1 lead. Rolla spent a majority of the half in their defensive zone, but nearly tied the match before halftime. Gonzales was able to work her way through the Union defense and fired a beautiful shot in the top right corner with 10 seconds remaining, but Garlock made another leaping save to keep the Union lead at 2-1 before the half.
The Lady Bulldogs started to get more opportunities in the second half, but couldn't get clean shots on goal. On several occasions, Rolla was on their way to making a run on goal, but made one bad pass that ended the run. Most of the half went by with the score remaining at 2-1, but things got out of hand in the final 15 minutes of the half. Union scored three goals in the span of three minutes to blow Rolla out of the water 5-1. After the game, Rolla head coach Mike Howard gave a lot of credit to Union.
"We played them twice and they outscored us 8-2, clearly they're much better than us," said Howard. "We got the 1-0 lead and every time you make a mistake against that team, their forwards punish you. They come forward very fast and very physical, it's a tough matchup for us.
"Nah, I thought if anything that game would motivate us a little bit," added Howard about their first matchup with Union. "Hats off to Union, we went up early and they scored five unanswered goals...it's going to take a very good team to knock them off."
This game is hardly an example of the season that the Lady Bulldogs had, but it was a tough matchup for them. Coach Howard is proud of what his girls were able to accomplish this season.
"That's what I told them when the game is over. We went 9-0 in the Ozark Conference. We only lost five games all season and two of them were to the same team," said Howard. "It's hard to be disappointed in the way you played, the last game was tough."