In their fifth game in six days, fatigue was to be expected for the Helias Lady Crusaders.
And the Lady Crusaders were just never able to get it going Saturday, as they dropped a 2-0 decision to the Ozark Lady Tigers in the Helias Shootout at the Crusader Athletic Complex.
“Tired legs, tired minds,” Helias coach Jon DeSha said. “The way I ask them to play, I want them to make good decisions rather than just kick the ball into a random spot. Tired minds and tired legs surely played a part today. Doesn’t mean that is necessarily why we got the result, but I definitely believe it had some factor.”
The Lady Tigers controlled the ball for a majority of the opening half and sent five shots on goal against Helias freshman goalkeeper Emma Brown.
Brown was able to turn away three shots, but Ozark got a couple of well-placed shots above her and into the top of the net.
The first came on a free kick from Audrey Carlton, as she found the upper-right corner of the net from about 30 yards out to put the Lady Tigers in front 1-0 with 16:28 left in the half.
“One of the keys to our game was to not allow free kicks and not allow corners,” DeSha said. “They have ladies that can strike it well over distance and that’s exactly what happened.”
Ozark added its second goal with just over two minutes left in the first half, as Shaeley Combs found Kathryn Dublin just outside of the top of the box for a chip shot into the upper-right corner.
There were Lady Crusaders in the area, but Dublin was able to get the shot off uncontested.
“It’s incredible, you guard your house,” DeSha said. “Anything around the 18-yard line is shooting range. If you allow a player to receive a ball, face up and make a decision, it’s probably too late.”
Despite allowing two goals in the first half, DeSha was pleased with what he saw from his freshman in goal.
“Like any player in any sport, the way to get confidence is to play and I wanted her to gain confidence by playing,” he said. “Neither goal was a result of her inability to be a goalkeeper, it just was unlucky for her. They were well-placed shots.”
Helias made some offensive adjustments at the half, shifting its formation into a 4-4-2.
The Lady Crusaders saw a lot more success in controlling the ball following intermission, but the Lady Tiger back line was able to hold strong throughout.
DeSha praised the defensive pressure Ozark put on in the attacking third.
“Around the goal, they are vigilant and they will do anything to block the ball,” he said.
Despite the fatigue, Helias continued to attack until the whistle was blown with just under eight minutes for a lightning delay.
“The response was good,” DeSha said. “I’ve never been displeased at any point in the year at our response and our ability to work hard and grind out the time. They do well at that.”
The two sides agreed to not resume the contest after the lightning delay started, giving the Lady Tigers the 2-0 victory.
Alexis Soloman made four saves in goal for Ozark (7-5), which ended the Shootout with a 2-0 record after defeating Capital City 2-1 on Friday.
Abbi Tesreau turned away six shots in the second half for Helias (5-5-1). The Lady Crusaders end their home Shootout with a 1-1 record after beating St. Francis Borgia 5-0 on Friday.
Helias will get some much-needed time off before playing Wednesday at home against Sedalia Smith-Cotton.
“We are playing laser tag Monday night, it’s pretty important,” DeSha said. “… They’ve got tomorrow off, Monday we are playing laser tag, Tuesday we will do some light training and then Wednesday we are back at it with games.”