The Rolla soccer team (5-5) hosted Union on Wednesday, April 11 for a matchup against one of the teams in their District. Union proved why they're one of the best teams on Rolla's schedule, as the Lady Bulldogs couldn't keep up in a 5-1 loss.
Union's Emily Gaebe was a problem for the Lady Bulldogs all night long. She scored Union's first goal of the game in the 16th minute and never really slowed down. She fired shot after shot and nearly added several more goals in the first half, but Rolla was bailed out by some shots hitting off the crossbar. The Lady Bulldogs couldn't find the offensive push in response and Union was able to extend their lead before the half. Rolla was called for a foul in the box with the 28th minute, which set up a an easy penalty shot goal from Hailey Cloud. Union went into the half with a 2-0 lead.
Rolla showed a bit more fight in the second half, but couldn't find scoring chances early in the half. Union, meanwhile, kept firing shots on goal. They added their third goal in the 47th minute on another PK by Cloud and Gaebe followed that with another goal a minute later. Gaebe then completed her hat trick in the 57th minute.
Union pulled several of their starters as the second half continued and Rolla was able to make a couple of runs at the net. The Lady Bulldogs finally got on the board when Ellie Rodgers was fouled in the box in the 65th minute. Ryleigh Grommet took the PK and brought the score to 5-1. That was just the third goal Union has allowed all season. Rolla had a few more runs at the net, but couldn't score again in a 5-1 loss.
"They were as good as advertised and I knew they would be," said head coach Mike Howard after the game. "That 13 up top, she's just a handful. She was running at us with a lot of authority and a lot of pace and could finish. It's not just her, it's all of them. They're very organized and big, they win every 50-50 ball or at least challenge for them. I can't see a lot of people out there stopping that team going to the Final Four."
Coach Howard was proud to see his team continue to fight in the second half, despite the numbers on the scoreboard. That drive to keep fighting can definitely pay off as the season continues.
"I'm proud of the fact that we competed, we didn't just give up," said coach Howard. "It's one of the things we talked about at halftime and we talk about it all the time, honestly, is you compete for 80 minutes and you see what happens. It's easy when your backs are against the wall and things aren't going your way to get your head down and next thing you know the game really gets away from you."
The Lady Bulldogs still have a lot of action left this week. They travel to Pacific on Friday, April 13 to face off against a second District team. They'll then play their fourth game of the week on Saturday when they host Hazelwood Central.
"We've played a lot of games lately and been on the road. We didn't get back (Tuesday) night until 11:30. We'll give them the day off tomorrow and show up Friday and try to go again," said the Rolla head coach. "That's all you can do. I mean, what are you going to do in practice when you play four games in a week? They'll be alright. We've gotten better, even tonight we got better. That's all we're looking for, get better and then see what happens at the end of the day."