Mexico's season ends with a bang

Mexico's season ends with a bang
Katie Gooch (with ball) and Paige Myers go on the attack on Monday night as Shelby Kennemore trails. Kennemore would score the team's only home goal of the season.
Dave Faries

The Bulldogs scored two goals in an early season encounter at Fatima. They found the back of the net at Wright City and Moberly.

Until Monday night in the first round of district play, however, the girls soccer squad had not scored at home.

It was worth the wait – a magnificent, curling strike from 20 yards out off Shelby Kennemore’s right foot. The ball arced beyond Winfield goalkeeper Isabel Lang’s reach then veered under the crossbar and into the side netting.

“I can’t even believe it happened,” Kennemore said. “I just stood there for a second.”

The junior midfielder was soon mobbed by teammates. Despite finishing with a 1-20 record, this season’s young and inexperienced team always played with their heads up and found joy in small accomplishments.

“It was a new experience, being on a team like this,” observed All-Conference goalkeeper Tessa Haefling. “For myself and everyone else, it’s how much we improved.”

Last week Mexico traveled to Winfield and were overwhelmed 8-0 in the first half. On Monday they went the distance, falling 6-1 to a talented Warriors team but playing solid soccer.

Haefling tallied 17 saves and had plenty of help on defense. Lizzie Joiner deflected a shot with her head. Miriam Gleeson made a one on one tackle to turn the Warriors back. Ruby Haefling cleared a crossing pass away.

On three occasions the vocal central defender Madison Maxwell – “she shows up at school with no voice,” Joiner said – stopped Winfield strikers.

“Last week we were negative on the field,” Maxwell noted. “This week we came together.”

The Bulldogs challenged Winfield from the start. Down 1-0 in the early stages, Wyndee Bohr and Paige Myers penetrated the 18 yard box but were crowded out. Two minutes later Katie Gooch launched a shot on target that was corralled by Lang.

Mexico’s attack-minded style provided for an entertaining game. In the 34th minute Bohr decided to go through Winfield’s Alexa Nickles rather than wait for a teammate to work into space, but she couldn’t hold the ball.

Later Kennemore made a deft tackle and then beat two defenders. Again, however, the counterattack fizzled. Foreshadowing her goal, Kennemore began the second half by slivering through three Warriors, although she couldn’t beat the entire back line.

“She has come into her own,” head coach Haley Schafer said of Kennemore.

A final bit of entertainment was improvised when a Mexico defender hammered the ball away from danger – and into Joiner’s rear end.

“I was like ‘what?’ said Joiner, who was assigned to mark Winfield’s potent Kiley Kukan and was on task.

“That was my highlight of the game,” Tessa Haefling said with a wry smile.

Coach Schafer recalls that she had been apprehensive entering the season with such a young and inexperienced group. But now she fully appreciates their character.

“They have a lot of fun,” she said.


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