Soccer 'Cats finish fourth in state

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cassville finished the 2007 season with a fourth place finish at state. The Wildcats lost in the state semi-final game last Friday night to Smithville 2-0 and then were defeated by Duchesne 5-0 in the third place game.

"Even though we did not perform as well as we would have liked to in the final four we are deeply proud of our accomplishments this year," said Head Coach Brian Wilbanks.

On Friday, Cassville took on Smithville (21-7), the only other public school in the Class 2 final four.

Cassville got behind early in the contest. Zach Doolan, who had 35 of Smithville's goals this year, drew defensive attention to one side of the goal and then passed to an open teammate on the opposite side, giving Smithville an easy goal and the lead after only eight minutes.

Cassville's biggest opportunity to get on the board was late in the first half. The Wildcats struggled to control the ball for much of the game but near the end of the first half, was able to get the ball up to their forwards. The Wildcats had some shots but could not find the back of the net against the Warriors.

One minute into the second half, Smithville secured the momentum. Doolan hit the goal this time after dribbling around many Wildcat defenders. Cassville had no answer to Smithville's two goals, coming up with only four more shots in the contest, none that scored.

The Wildcats' game with Duchesne was a bit rougher. Both teams showed some physical grit in the competition and a total of six yellow cards and one red card were handed out.

Duchesne took much longer to score than Cassville's first opponent. The Pioneers finally found the back of the net after 27 minutes of play. Duchesne scored again in the 35th minute to lead 2-0 at half. The St. Louis-based private school got back on the board in the 41st minute and finished it off with two more scores in the 71st and 74th.

Anthony Larson did all he could for Cassville, tallying nine saves in goal.

Cassville finished the season with a 22-3 mark.

"I would like to personally thank all of those who supported us, especially a very dedicated group of parents who shelled out a lot of money and time during the season," said Wilbanks. "The team also thanks the student body of Cassville and the local businesses for their great support."

State quarterfinal win

Despite losing its last two games in state competition, Cassville had an incredibly strong run leading up to its trip to St. Louis. The Wildcats entered the state final four with a record of 22 wins and only one loss.

The soccer 'Cats probably delivered their best performance of the season with a decisive 3-1 victory over Harrisonville in the state quarterfinal game.

Cassville trailed Harrisonville 1-0 at the half, but the Wildcats rallied to defeat their hosts 3-1."We felt confident," said Coach Brian Wilbanks. "We controlled the ball a lot in the first, but I just told the boys we needed to finish."

The Wildcats responded to their coach, hitting two goals within a minute of each other to take a 2-1 lead.

Thirteen minutes into the second half Uziel Franco headed in a pass from Ryan Schlichtman, and then one minute later, Schlichtman hit the net on an assist from Aaron Jamieson. Franco tacked on another goal late in the half on a 35-year free kick after a foul was called against Harrisonville.

Anthony Larson had another big game in goal for the Wildcats, recording several key saves that kept the Harrisonville Wildcats at bay.

With the big win, Cassville was able to advance to the state Final Four for the second time in three years.

A vocal Wildcat contingent helped inspire Cassville to an explosive second half effort. There were close to 100 local fans who made the trip to Harrisonville with the school district supplying a pep bus for the occasion.

"On behalf of the team and all the parents, I want to thank the school for sending a pep bus," said soccer mom Lisa Schlichtman. "The support of cheering fans really made a difference in how the boys responded and we appreciate all those who made it."

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