The Rolla girls soccer team (7-5) played a pair of games at the end of last week to put the cherry on top of a four game week. First the Lady Bulldogs traveled to Pacific to face off against a District foe on Friday, April 13. They then braved the horrible weather on the trip home, before playing Hazelwood Central on their home turf on Saturday. Rolla was able to pull out a 3-2 win on penalty kicks against Pacific and shutout Central 4-0.
The Lady Bulldogs got out to a solid start against Pacific when Elsa Wise broke through for a goal in the 19th minute, scoring off a pass from Ellie Rodgers. The rest of the first half didn't go well for Rolla, as Pacific scored the next two goals to take a 2-1 lead into the half. That score remained for most of the second half, but Rolla got a huge break when they had the chance for a penalty shot with four minutes left in regulation. Ryleigh Grommet stepped up and buried the PK to force overtime.
After a pair of scoreless overtime periods, the game came down to penalty kicks. Rolla stepped up and got four straight goals from Grommet, Rodgers, Carlee McCormick and Ariana Stanislawski. The Lady Bulldogs then got a great performance from Kelly Cates. She made two saves against Pacific to lift Rolla to a 3-2 win.
"It’s the first time this season that we have come back to win a game. I’m proud of our group for that," said head coach Mike Howard. "Pacific played very hard and Todd Dempsey is one of those coaches I have great respect for."
Rolla turned around and had a stellar game on Saturday and they had to do it without of one of their leading scorers. Wise was sidelined with an ankle injury, but that didn't stop Rolla from having one of their best offensive games of the year. The forward line was shifted around to include Mercedez Carpenter alongside Ariana and Eliana Stanislawski. Those three forwards all played a part in their first two goals of the game.
The Stanislawski's got things started early. In the 11th minute, Ariana fired a shot on goal, which Hazelwood Central's keeper, Raquel Hankerson, was able to get a hand on. The ball bounced around in the box and Eliana was there the clean things up, knocking in an easy goal to give Rolla a 1-0 lead. Rolla had several other great chances in the first half, but they weren't able to convert, carrying a 1-0 lead into the half.
After halftime, goals started coming in quickly. In the 50th minute, A. Stanislawski fired another shot on goal. Much like the Lady Bulldog's first goal, Hankerson got a hand on it, but Rolla was there to finish with a goal. This time it was Carpenter who came in to tap it in, extending Rolla's lead to 2-0. Then less than a minute later, McCormick fired a long shot that found the back of the net for Rolla's third goal of the afternoon. Grommet added her third PK in regulation in as many games in the 57th minute. After that, Rolla subbed in their bench players, who finished off a 4-0 win. Cates and Kate Brand combined for the shutout in goal.
"I was very impressed with our game today," said coach Howard after the game. "Up top, those three played awesome together. They moved well together, they created chances. We could've finished a couple more of them, but at least they created those opportunities. I can't remember a game this season where we've had this many quality chances on goal."
The forwards get a lot of love in a four-goal performance, but it was a full team effort.
"As usual, our back line played awesome and Ellie Rodgers won a bunch of balls for us in the middle of the field today," said Howard. "It's a good effort all-around."
The win was coach Howard's 399th with the girls. One more win and he will become the second coach in the history of Missouri high school soccer to win 400 as a boys coach and 400 as a girls coach. He'll look to reach that mark as Rolla returns to the Ozark Conference on Tuesday, April 17 with a home game against Waynesville.