Sometimes a loss can feel a lot like a win. For the WC Lady Cardinal soccer team, the 2-1 loss to South Knox at Rees Field on Tuesday was filled with accolades as WC (3-6) battled the entire 40 minutes in a stellar defensive effort. With the exception of one minute in the second half when the Lady Spartans scored both goals, WC went toe-to-toe with one of the Blue Chips’ best teams.
“Both of those goals were on beautiful shots,” said WC coach Austin Deem. “They dominated the possessions tonight and most of the game was in our defensive third, but our defense really stepped up. I’m not happy with the outcome, but I’m really happy with the effort.
“One of the things we have been doing is taking a touch, looking up and taking a second to decide what to do, and not just blast it up the field or kick it out of bounds. I thought Adeline (O’Brian) has also improved a lot as well at keeper.”
Most of the first 20 minutes were contested in the middle of the field, as neither team had any dangerous opportunities. However, WC’s Claire Fox had the first chance with about 18:00 to play as she streaked down the left side and put the first shot of the game on net.
WC’s Eline Rutledal and Jayden Hoffman helped keep South Knox from putting serious pressure on WC keeper Adeline O’Brian during most of the first half.
The Lady Spartans had their best chances on back-to-back corner kicks around the six-minute mark; however, Hallie Leishner and Margaret Bassler also also made some big plays on the back line, leading to WC chances in the final minute of the half.
O’Brian had a tough save to make early in the second half, as South Knox increased the offensive pressure in the opening 10 minutes, but were kept off the board.
Lady Cardinal Ella Grissom looked like she would be the first to dent the back of the net, but missed on loose ball with 28:00 left. However, Grissom would then find Fox from the same spot less than a minute later to give WC the 1-0 lead.
Unfortunatly the Lady Spartans would tally a pair of goals with 21:00 to play, to not only tie, but take a lead that they would not give up.
Maritza Villagran-Cruz showed real speed for WC on several runs, but was unable to connect with her left foot, as she outran several SK defenders.
“This is her first year playing and she is just getting better and better,” added Deem. “We have to find a way to get her the ball.”
The aggressive pressure increased in the final minutes, but the WC defense and O’Brian continued to turn back a free kick and two corners in final three minutes, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and still fell 2-1.
The Lady Cardinals travel to Forest Park on Thursday for non-conference action.