WAYNESVILLE — There was a valiant showing on defense Tuesday, but the Waynesville Lady Tigers were unable to put any points in the board in a 2-0 loss to the Kickapoo Lady Chiefs in Waynesville.
The Lady Tigers (4-4, 2-1 in Ozark Conference) showed versatility in being able to switch from having four defenders back to three on defense.
Giving up just two goals to a team like Kickapoo, who has a Division I caliber player in Miriam Melugin, isn't too shabby of a night.
“It's big that we have that kind of confidence back there,” Waynesville coach Mike Gow said. “I think [sophomore] Emily Lucitt is a key factor in letting us do that kind of stuff. She's picked up her position so quickly, playing the center back in the four-back system.”
When the Tiger defense switched to the three-back senior Erin White moved into midfield to mark the extra player Kickapoo was using. The Tigers didn't lose a beat as they transitioned between the two defenses.
“The defense kept its shape and the girls supported each other nicely,” Gow said.
The problem wasn't the defense though, it was the absence of offense.
Waynesville had just one shot in the first half, coming from the foot of senior Jessica Schellhase, but it sailed high. That forced the Tigers to go down 2-0 by halftime.
Tiger goalkeeper D'Anna Hasik did a respectable job of keeping her team within striking distance, once again keeping her form in goal.
Just under 25 minutes left in the first half she made a save at her right post to keep the game scoreless.
It was just a waiting game though, to see when Melugin would leave her mark on the game.
With 14:04 remaining in the first, Hasik was trying to make a pass out to her teammates and Melugin got a foot on it and put it back in for a score.
“I talked to her about that,” Gow said. “Keepers make mistakes like that all the time. You see it in the Premier League. She's a sophomore in high school, she's going to make mistakes, but she doesn't repeat them.”
In fact, Hasik smiled during the team meeting after the game when Gow mentioned the goal. He heaped praise upon her then too.
“She learns from her mistakes, she picks it up really quick,” Gow said. “She has a great personality that way.”
Melugin knocked in another goal with 3:24 left on the clock before halftime to make it 2-0 Chiefs.
Waynesville would pick up the offensive pace in the second.
A couple of shots were easy for Kickapoo's keep to pick up, but a couple more were lasers that took a concentrated effort.
Two textbook corner kicks by Elizabeth Sisson were nearly headed in by senior Megan Morgan and junior Camia Blash.
With 8:35 left in the game Schellhase blocked an attempted clear by Kickapoo with her body and made a cross to Blash who put the ball on goal, but it too was saved.
“I thought in the second half Camia and Jessica had a couple of nice combinations that we just couldn't get on the end of cleanly,” Gow said. “[Kickapoo's] keeper came up with a couple of nice stops there at the end.”
For as many shots the Lady Tigers had though , there were just as many opportunities they didn't capitalize on.
“We had a couple of times that the ball was bouncing right there in front of the goal and no one was going to it,” Gow said. “We have to get people there, if we don't get people there, that's what's going to happen (they lose). That ball should have one of our goals there pressuring that keeper to make a quicker decision to get to the ball and not give her all day.”
The junior varsity Tigers also lost to Kickapoo 2-0.
Waynesville will travel to Springfield on Thursday to take on Hillcrest.