Despite gloomy conditions Monday night, there was plenty for the Rock Bridge girls soccer team to be happy about. The night started with a spirited celebration of the team’s seniors and ended with a 2-0 victory.
Behind two goals from sophomore forward Lauren Kelly, the Bruins (7-5-4) defeated visiting Smith-Cotton (7-9-2) at Cosmopolitan Park to stretch their unbeaten streak to five games.
While the team continued its recent trend of controlling the ball and passing to feet, coach Marc VanDover said rain, which fell leading up to the game and into the opening few minutes of the first half, made moving the ball a little difficult.
“We’ve gotten used to passing to feet, something that we’ve been doing very well,” he said, “but the slick surface sent us for a loop. We weren’t putting enough pace on the ball.”
Even with the difficult passing condtions, the Rock Bridge offense pressured the Tiger defense from the beginning. However, the Bruins had trouble putting the ball on net, sending several shots soaring over the crossbar. Junior defender and tri-captain Beth Staelens said the Bruins need to work on shooting in practice this week.
“We have to work on our finishing,” she said. “It’s one of the weaker points of our game.”
Rock Bridge finally got on the board in the 35th minute when Kelly poked in a ball sent across the front of the net by junior midfielder Emily Crowe. Kelly later scored the team’s second goal of the game, avoiding lunging Smith-Cotton goalie Kayla Yeater and putting it in the back of the net in the fourth minute of the second half.
On the other side of the ball, the Bruin defense held the Tiger offense in check, allowing few dangerous scoring chances. After allowing eight goals to St. Teresa’s Academy on April 17, the Bruins defense has only allowed one goal in its past two home games. Staelens said one of the keys to this success is the team’s ability to communicate with one another.
“The defense always needs to work together and keep talking and keep communicating to make sure the ball doesn’t get into the back of the net,” she said.
VanDover agreed that communication is important. He said the team was a little sloppy with their communication in the first half of Monday night’s game.
“We talked about it at half time,” VanDover said. “We had three players on the ball with nobody talking, saying ‘I got it.’”
Rock Bridge next plays Hickman at 7 p.m. at MU on Wednesday. Staelens said the game against the Kewpies will come down to more than just who has the better players.
“We’re always motivated to do well when we play Hickman,” Staelens said. “Against them, it’s not about who’s better, but who’s more motivated to win.”