The final score on the scoreboard at Susie Ditzfeld Memorial Field Friday evening read: Smith-Cotton 2, Oak Grove 0.
Anyone watching the match in the opening round of the S-C Invitational had to wonder what kept it that close.
“We should have had a lot more than two,” said S-C Coach Ethan Weller. ”We weren’t taking the ball to the goal. We backed it out a lot.”
Weller was worried going into the season about his team’s ability to score. The Tigers outshot the Panthers 17-3 in the match, but found the net just twice and went 65 minutes between their two goals.
S-C was guilty of pushing the ball up the middle a lot instead of using their speed outside on the wings.
“We have a lot of speed up front in Jacob Lamb in the middle and Zack Volk and Luke Rosendale,” said Weller. “We have speed which is something we didn’t necessarily have last year.
“It’s not that we were doing anything wrong,” Weller added. “They (Oak Grove) were playing out high in the back. We had a tendency to try to pop the ball over the top instead of keeping it on the ground and going through them “
Rosendale, playing outside right wing, put the Tigers on to 1-0 11 minutes into the match. He corralled a loose ball, made a run up the right wing and hit a low liner past Panther senior goalie Jackson Murphy into the lower right corner of the net to put S-C up to stay.
“We have the kind of speed where we can run past people like Luke did,” said Weller. “We had so many chances tonight, we should have had more than two.”
S-C didn’t find the net again until there were just four minutes left in the match, when Lamb took a through pass near midfield from Jacob Carroll, ran past two defenders and ripped a shot past Murphy into the lower left side of the net for an insurance goal and a 2-0 Tiger lead.
Murphy had some great saves, particularly in the second half when S-C had six shots from point-blank range in the last 10 minutes of the match. Murphy had 10 saves in the match.
Weller lauded the efforts of defenders Derrick Amberg, Nick Crank, Brrandon Ogweno and Mike Pugh.
“They did a great job of knowing when to fall back on a drive and when to come up high and mark tight,” said Weller, whose team record its first shutout in its first game and allowed only three shots. Senior goalie Ryan Akin had two saves and hit some booming punts and goal kicks.
S-C played Harrisonville later Friday night with a berth in the tourney championship match on Saturday on the line. Photos by Randy Kirby. Copyright Sedalia News Journal.