Last Tuesday night's tilt lived up to the drama and excitement that comes with a long-time rivalry with the Cubs claiming a 2-1 victory
The Cubs opened the game on the attack, spending the first 15 minutes pounding the ball from midfield into the Wildcats' box and getting great looks at the goal.
Cassville defenders Brady Pry, Jacob Clere and goalie Indy Cole withstood the onslaught, deflecting and disrupting the Cubs attack.
"I thought this was one of the best defensive games we had played all year," said Cassville coach Andrew Hoskins. "We knew Monett would be ready to play and that they have a good offense. Coming into this match my main concern was whether or not our defense would be up to the task."
Cole turned into an offensive weapon for the Wildcats with booming kicks after saves that frequently cleared the midfield stripe.
Cubs defenders were caught off guard three times, and the Wildcats, transitioned the goalie kicks into odd man rushes.
However, the Cubs' defense, which was totally revamped in the off season including a new goalie, was up to the challenge.
Cassville striker David Verde had two opportunities to break the 0-0 deadlock only to have his first attempt foiled by Cubs goalie Caleb Blue and the second attempt deflected by defender David Garcia.
Blue and Cole combined for 12 saves in the game's first 25 minutes.
The Cubs struck first in the 27th minute. Eddie Aceves drove down the left side of the field and tapped a 20-foot shot toward goal. Kole Eden stretched his right foot and redirected the ball that slipped past a diving Cole.
The Wildcats weren't phased and promptly mounted a counterattack.
Less than a minute later, Verde buried what appeared to be the equalizer in the lower right corner of the Cubs' net. However, an offsides infraction erased the goal.
Undaunted, Cassville quickly got the ball back, and Zach McGuffey's 12-foot kick, which dribbled past Blue, would not be waved off to tie the game 1-1.
As the 90-degree heat at South Park began to take its toll on the players, the pace of the game slowed. The uptempo team play turned into one-on-one battles.
In the 37th minute, Juan Salas stole the ball near midfield, and a spin move allowed him to bypass the next Cassville challenger. As Salas neared the right boundary, he centered a pass toward goal. Eden, with a flick of his neck, connected with the ball heading it into the upper right corner of the net.
As halftime approached, each team had a chance to regroup.
"I told our defense that we couldn't get beat by balls flying over our heads," said Monett coach Dan Janssen. "Cassville has a good goalie, and he can pound the ball. We also wanted to keep the ball and attack."
Cassville had a similar plan.
"We want to attack," said Hoskins. "We knew we had to dial up the intensity."
For the first 20 minutes of the second half the Wildcats pressed the action. Eight shots toward the Monett goal were knocked away by Cubs' defenders.
Monett dominated the next 15 minutes of play, taking three shots on goal that required diving stops by Cole. In the last five minutes, the Wildcats went into desperation mode, kicking hard, fast and frequently at the Cubs' goal.
When the final horn sounded, exhausted teams shook hands and exited the field.
"I told our boys that they have nothing to be ashamed of," said Hoskins. "We will face Monett at least two more times this season. We just have to keep fighting."
Monett improved to 3-1 on the season. Cassville fell to 1-1.
The Wildcats will be in action this weekend at the Monett Tournament.