It had been a while since the Festus Tigers Girls Varsity Soccer team felt the excitement of a victory. On Wednesday, April 28th, the Tigers traveled to Bayless, down a few key players due to injuries, but still managed to battle hard, and earn only their third victory of the season. After the 3-1 win the Tigers now have a 3-12 record.
Head Coach Caleb Zustiak noted, “The physical battle against St. Clair earlier in the week left us shorthanded and fatigued for an important end of season contest. Multiple players stepped up to fill in the gaps, and despite falling behind early in the match, the improved passing and buildup play developed through the season, overwhelmed the Bayless Bronchos to result in our most dominant performance so far.”
Early on, it was looking like trouble again, as Bayless got on the board first at 12 minutes. However, the Tigers answered back at 22 minutes with a goal by Francesca Merlo off an assist by Ella McKinney to tie the game. Zustiak commented, “McKinney was surprised to be pulled up to Varsity, but did an excellent job for her first Varsity performance, assisting Merlo’s goal.”
Then, Riley Vogel added the Tigers’ next goal at minute 31 from a pass by Emily Holt, to take the lead. The score remained 2-1 going into halftime. Impressed by Vogel and Holt, Zustiak mentioned, “Vogel worked both fullback and forward. Holt was an attacking threat as always, scoring despite being double and triple covered the majority of the game.
The Tigers would fight to maintain their one-goal lead all the way until the 30 minute mark of the second half, when Holt found the back of the net off an assist by Jersey Moonier. Festus successfully fended off Bayless for the final 10 minutes, to earn the victory by the score of 3-1.
Defensively, Zustiak was impressed, and said, “Karleigh Bayer was rock solid on defense, anticipating attacks and making smart passes to counter-attack.”
In the net, Zoe Erxleben played the first half, stopping 10 shots, then played in the field. Zustiak stated, “Erxleben was unshakable as goalie and as a strong defensive midfielder and fullback.” Mady Geiler took over the second half and also turned away 10 chances.
The Tigers will look to recover over the weekend and the early part of next week, as they get ready to play at home on Wednesday, May 5th against Valley Park.