Soccer Cats' record now stands at impressive 14-1
By Lisa Schlichtman
The Wildcats suffered their first loss of the season last Monday but then rebounded to defeat rival Carthage in an historic match on Thursday night.
In what was described by spectators as one of the most exciting games of soccer ever played in the program's history, Cassville beat the visiting Tigers 5-3 on penalty kicks. The two district foes fought to a 3-3 draw in regulation and then played through two scoreless 10-minute overtimes.
Senior goalkeeper Anthony Larson showed outstanding quickness in the penalty phase of play, stopping two Carthage kicks to give Cassville a huge win that should have positive implications come district seeding time.
The Wildcats were able to come back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game at 3-3 in the last 10 minutes of the second half after leading 1-0 at half-time.
Uziel Franco scored the only goal of the first half on a penalty kick after being tripped in the box.
In the second half, the Tigers came out strong and scored three unanswered goals. Carthage goals were scored by Cole Beckham, Mario Perez (Beckham assist) and Phillip Devillers (Matt Robertson assist).
With only about 10 minutes left in the match, Franco was able to get a clean pass off to Ryan Schlichtman who booted the ball past the Carthage keeper to bring the Wildcats within one. Three minutes later, Schlichtman scored again to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Aggressive play by both defenses kept the tie intact through two 10-minute overtime periods. Matt Frazier, Ross Delossantos, Corey Wilbanks and Aaron Jamieson were strong on defense and Matt Angel had another stand-out game in the midfield.
Franco, Schlichtman, Omar Valenzuela, Luis Ortega and Alfonso Miranda all tallied penalty kicks in the win and Larson was credited with two penalty kick saves.
"The Carthage game was great for us, because it showed a fundamental weakness that we have at defense and we are going to try out some new adjustments," said Coach Brian Wilbanks.
"The game also showed that our players have a lot of heart," continued Coach Wilbanks. "I can't say enough about how Anthony Larson played at goalie, how Ryan (Schlichtman) pushed through a lot of pain to tie up the game and how our defense reacted from midway through the second half and on."
Other game action
The Wildcats traveled to Springfield Catholic last Monday night and were unable to beat the talented newcomers for a third time. The Irish earned a 2-1 win over Cassville and handed the state-ranked Wildcats their first loss of the season.
The Wildcats scored 20 minutes into the first half on an unassisted goal by Franco. Catholic came back and Cullen Barr scored 15 minutes later on an assist from Levi Millsap to even the score at 1-1 entering half time.
With only two minutes left in regulation, Barr was taken down at the edge of the box, a foul was called and a penalty kick was awarded. Catholic's David Bailey scored on the PK to give Springfield Catholic the win.
Last Tuesday, the Wildcats travelled to Aurora and thumped the hosts 9-1.
Schlichtman scored Cassville's first two goals of the night and then Uziel Franco added to the scoring parade with a hat trick. Jesus Rivera tallied two goals and two assists for Cassville, and Aaron Jamieson and Caleb Wilbanks each scored once. Aurora's Steven Young had the Houn' Dawgs' lone goal, which was scored in the second half.
The Wildcats' record now stands at 14-1. The squad travels to Carl Junction on Thursday night and then hosts Greenwood Laboratory School from Springfield on Saturday at noon.