Friday, April 8, 2011
For 480 minutes of play, the Fulton Lady Hornets soccer team had managed to keep opponents off the scoreboard.
Six straight opponents took the other side of the pitch against Fulton and all were sent home with a loss and no goals to show for it.
North Central Missouri Conference opponent Hannibal spent most of Thursday night’s game not making much headway in avoiding being unlucky team No. 7 in the Lady Hornets’ show of shutouts.
But a flurry in the last minute of play seemed to produce two can’t-miss goals by the Lady Pirates against Fulton sophomore goalkeeper Billie Klutts.
Hannibal junior midfielder Raylynn Charlton’s apparent score on a free kick was waved off because it failed to touch a player before going into the net. And moments later, Charlton sent another shot at Klutts, this time wide right.
Seconds later, Fulton found itself improving to 7-0 on the season with a 3-0 NCMC win over Hannibal at Morgan Soccer Complex.
“It was quite confusing,” Fulton head coach Kati Wallace said of Charlton’s looks at the net. “And to be honest I wasn’t as put back as before because the first thing that came to my mind was, ‘So it was a goal.’
“We’re still up three and we still have the victory.”
The Lady Hornets — who improved to 4-0 in NCMC play — were playing with some new pieces plugged into key roles. For starters, there was Klutts. On Monday night, she minded the net for the Fulton junior varsity team in a scoreless tie against Kirksville.
But when Wallace’s normal starter, senior Liz Foreman, was still nursing soreness from a automobile accident two days ago, Klutts got called up for her first varsity start between the pipes.
She spent much of the first half watching her cleats collect dust because the Fulton defense didn’t allow a Hannibal offensive attack to make it past midfield. Klutts faced just one shot in the first half and the two teams entered the final minute of the half still stuck in a scoreless tie.
“With having our starting goalkeeper out of the mix and our starting sweeper (junior Rebecca Revak) out also, we had to do some maneuvering there in the middle,” Wallace said. “So it kept us on our toes and made us have to backtrack a little bit and get reorganized, but I think we did a good job.”
Lady Hornets senior midfielder Kara Henry’s attempted clearing in the 39th minute found its way into the back of the net to put the first goal on the board. The ease with which the ball went in was not indicative, however, of the manner in which Fulton ran its offense.
Sophomore midfielder Adrienne Ebersole had two point-blank shots at goals at the midpoint of the first half but could not convert. After being pushed while dribbling just feet away from the goal, Ebersole’s penalty kick sailed high.
Her next shot came on a breakaway that she pushed right into the arms of the Hannibal goaltender. Ebersole followed the shot in hoping to get a rebound, but instead received a yellow card for running into the goalkeeper.
Ebersole did have a hand in the Lady Hornets’ next goal, when sophomore midfielder Kate Sterner tapped in her miss to put the Hornets up 2-0 17 minutes into the second half.
“We did adjust to the defense that Hannibal played, but they made adjustments after that,” Wallace said. “We talked about breaking through the defense and being ready for those through balls.”
Sophomore forward Lola Weiss added a free-kick goal in the 38th minute of the second half for Fulton’s final goal. The Lady Hornets outshot the Lady Pirates 9-4, with all four Hannibal shots falling into the hands of Klutts, who will likely start tonight’s game at the School of the Osage to further rest Foreman.
“I think Billie played out of her mind and played great tonight,” Wallace said. “With it being her first varsity start, she didn’t let it make her nervous.
“She knew what the task was and she’s not afraid of that ball or afraid to come out at it.”
Fulton has outscored opposing teams 32-0 on the season and Weiss, Henry and Ebersole are among the area leaders in goals and total points. It’s been a quick rise for the Lady Hornets, who seem more concerned with the zero in the loss column than the one for goals allowed.
“It’s one of those things where we knew we had it in us to do this, but we’ve just tried to take it game by game,” Wallace said. “It took us a couple of games in to realize the progression we’ve made, but now we’ve surpassed goals we’ve made and are striving for more.”
Fulton’s junior varsity team fell to 1-3-1 on the season with a 2-0 loss to Hannibal on Thursday night.
The Lady Hornets play at Osage at 5 p.m. today. The junior varsity game will be played first.