Just two weeks ago, the William Chrisman boys soccer team finished off a seven-game stretch in which it scored just two goals combined.
The offense has been inconsistent for the Bears all season, but lately, it seems like John Straub’s team is starting to figure it out.
Chrisman has now averaged four goals in its last four games, including a 2-1 road win against Suburban Middle Six rival Fort Osage Tuesday.
An aggressive Bears team outshot the Indians 18-12 (11-7 on goal) and won the time-of-possession battle.
Straub credited the resurgence of the offense to a more relaxed attitude from his team.
“Our guys are coming together,” Straub said. “We’ve created opportunities before, we just didn’t finish them. We’re playing more relaxed. We aren’t thinking about a whole lot. We’re just going out there and playing and having fun.”
Freshman midfielder Tom Beem, who scored the deciding goal, also noted that the Bears have shared the ball noticeably better than earlier, which has led to more goals.
“At the beginning of the year we were thinking more on an individual basis,” Beem said. “Recently, we have been more team-oriented and that has allowed us to possess the ball more.”
Added sophomore forward Zane Brende: “I think we were a little shy at first, but as the season went on, we built that chemistry. Things are coming a lot smoother.”
To make the win even more of a plus for Chrisman (8-12, 3-7 Middle Six), it avenged a 2-1 loss earlier in the year to the Indians (15-4, 7-2) and it gives the Bears confidence heading into the Class 4 District 14 tournament, which includes Fort Osage.
“This is a huge confidence booster,” Beem said. “This gets us ready for districts and gives us an idea of how the tempo is going to be.”
Chrisman got things started when Tanner Jolley received a through ball and had an open shot from the right wing. The shot, though, was blocked by Indians goalkeeper Kaia Tupinio and deflected to the left side of the penalty box. Brende flew in from the right side and snuck a shot inside the far post for a 1-0 edge.
“Tanner Jolley tried to get it over the goalie, the goalie deflected it and I got atouch on it, and I was able to tap it in,” Brende said.
Fort Osage junior forward Jake Lammering nearly tied it when he weaved through a thicket of defenders to get a clear, close-range shot, but Chrisman midfielder Marco Sagastume was there to backup goalkeeper Brandon Kuhlman and knocked the ball away as it approached the goalmouth.
The Bears made Fort Osage pay for the missed opportunity as Cody Lien sent a direct free kick from 45 yards out inside the penalty box. Braxton Saye headed the ball to a wide-open Beem on the left side and Beem punched it inside the left pole for a 2-0 lead.
“It was a great ball in,” Beem said. “I lost my marker and Braxton played it right to me and I shot it in the corner.”
Chrisman just missed out on trio goals near the end of the first half as a breakaway goal from Michael Palomino went just wide left, a laser off the foot of Sagastume was saved by a leaping Tupinio and a last-second goal by Jolley was waved off because the referees determined the ball didn’t cross the goalmouth in time.
After struggling to maintain possession in the first half, the Indians came out in the final 40 minutes much more aggressive. That included Lammering, who had six defenders on him, somehow got around a pair in front of him and drilled a shot inside the far post to narrow the deficit to 2-1.
“We could have come out a little faster,” Fort Osage coach Michael Brown said. “We played great in the second half. It just came down to two simple errors. (Chrisman) finished both of them well. Kaia didn’t have a chance on those.
“Jake is a special player. He just needs an inch of space to make something happen.”
The Indians had a couple of late chances, including a 12-yard shot from Lammering that Kuhlman knocked away with the edge of his fingertips on a diving save.
“Brandon has saved us several times, including tonight,” Straub said.