LOUISVILLE — Less than three weeks after the Fairview girls soccer team was able to edge Monarch at the Arapahoe Warrior Invitational the two squads were back at it, with the Coyotes looking for revenge on their home turf.
Unfortunately for MoHi, the Knights once again proved to be just too much to handle.
With scoring chances at a premium throughout the evening, the two rivals looked destined to head to extra time scoreless. But Fairview junior Reci Smith earned a foul in the 73rd minute of play and capitalized on the ensuing free kick, burying a drive to the lower right corner of the goal to give the Knights a 1-0 victory.
“We had been practicing that a lot,” Smith said of the set piece. “I usually take that (type of kick). It was a direct kick and it was just my turn to hit that one.”
The game-winner came after a somewhat controversial call against the Coyotes (3-3, 2-1). Smith had possession of the ball and was dribbling from right to left outside the top of the 18-yard box when she appeared to stumble as a Monarch defender challenged her. With her progress impeded, the referee awarded the Knights (5-1, 2-0) a foul and thus the opportunity for the shot on goal, much to dismay of the home crowd.
“Sometimes the calls go for you, sometimes the calls go against you, but that’s the beauty of soccer,” Monarch coach Eric Schmidt said. “Kristen (Barbour) didn’t touch anybody. The ref made a call, as he should. He refs, I coach. It is what it is.”
The way the match had been taking shape, it seems unlikely that a goal was going to be produced organically within the flow of the game. While the two sides were fairly even throughout the first 40 minutes of play, neither was able to muster a shot on goal in the first half.
Fairview, ranked No. 7 in Class 5A according to CHSAANow.com, seemed to steal the momentum following intermission, as the Knights dominated the ball for much of the remainder of the evening. While Monarch did have three shot attempts during the first half, the Coyotes were unable to get a legitimate look after the break.
“We just recognized what they were doing, and they did it really well, was basically getting a bunch of girls behind the ball and basically playing for a tie or 1-0 victory,” Fairview coach Dan Niedringhaus said. “It isn’t a bad strategy. But ultimately they just clogged the middle so we just kept trying to keep it wide, keep it wide.”
The Knights did have more success when they were able to get the ball outside, as Izzy Stahl teamed with Hailey Nichols and Savannah Beetcher for pretty combinations on several occasions. One such buildup resulted in a FHS corner kick in the 59th minute. The Knights went on to earn two more corners in succession, giving themselves several opportunities in front of the net, but the Coyotes’ defense proved up to the challange each time.
Fairview again had an opportunity in the 70th minute when Stahl sent a deep shot to the left corner of the frame, but Monarch keeper Kaylee Mickens dove to make an impressive save and keep the score nil-nil.
“(Monarch was) playing hard, and they obviously wanted to win it just as bad as we did,” Smith said. “They kept constant pressure on us and they had a lot of numbers in the back so it was difficult for us to connect.”
While the loss drops the Coyotes to .500 on the season, Monarch showed that it is most certainly on the rise. Though the team finished 1-13 a year ago, MoHi’s nine returning starters seem to have built up a substantial amount of chemistry in defeat. And with the return of star striker Cassie Owens, who sat out last season with injury, MHS should continue to be able competitive with state’s top teams.
“(It’s) very promising,” Schmidt said. “We’re really building a program here and I think you see that game by game. Our energy level, effort, skill are all increasing, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.”
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Fairview 1, Monarch 0
At Monarch H.S.
Fairview (5-1, 2-0) 0 1 — 1
Monarch (3-3, 2-1) 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — Fairview: Reci Smith, 73rd minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fairview: Avery Tallman (80-0-0); Monarch: Kaylee Mickens (80-1-4).