In a long-awaited faceoff between two of the Big 8 East’s top teams, the Logan-Rogersville Lady Wildcats soccer squad overcame the Marshfield Lady Jays 3-0 on Monday.
The game was delayed by six days due to inclement weather last week, and in the meantime, both teams got another game under their belt, Rogersville falling in a 5-6 heartbreaker to Central on Wednesday and Marshfield battling out a 3-2 overtime victory against Crocker on Thursday. When the two teams met on Monday, their season records were roughly the same, and the second-place slot of the Big 8 East was at stake.
Rogersville proved the more ready team, though, taking an early lead in the first half of play time and holding the Marshfield girls scoreless throughout.
“I think we played as well as we possibly could,” Marshfield head coach Paul Lewis said after the game. “I think we have to take better advantage of some of the opportunities we have and not rush so much. It seems like we played a little clumsy early, going faster than we could have.”
Wildcat junior Lexie Vernon was the first to take advantage of the openings Marshfield left, placing a shot on a direct kick in front of the goal. It was junior forward Sophia Nixon who really gave the Jays fits, however. She put up Rogersville’s other two goals of the day and represented a constant threat on the Marshfield side of the field.
“The Nixon girl, she’s phenomenal — she’s absolutely one of the best players in the area,” Lewis said of his opponent. “If you give her the opportunity to shoot, she’s gonna pull it, and her left foot is very dangerous from any spot out their.”
Nixon’s two goals brought her within four of a 100-goal high school career — an impressive feat made more impressive by the fact that, as a junior, she’ll have a whole year to accrue even more.
For Nixon, the prolific offensive production is just a matter of problem solving. “I just kind of move around and look for different lanes for people to get the ball to me, and I just have to adjust to the defense,” she explained after the game. “I have to learn what they do and how they’re defending, and I just have to adjust to that.”
For the Jays’ part, they appeared to make some adjustments of their own, and the majority of the second half much more closely resembled the evenly matched game that the teams’ respective records suggested. Jay defenders Maddie Gardner and Kennedy Deckard successfully held the Rogersville girls at bay, while goalkeeper Haleigh Clift made the saves she had to. Meanwhile, freshman forward Hayleigh Cantrell made some strong drives into Rogersville territory and got off two near-thing shots at the Wildcat goal.
Coach Lewis was gratified to see the freshman make turn in such a strong performance against such a tough team. “We’re gonna see a whole lot more of Hayleigh Cantrell in this program’s future, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.
Lewis also took the opportunity to reflect on the program’s past, though. Thursday’s home game against Crocker was senior night for Marshfield soccer, and the group of seniors being honored were particularly special to the coach.
“They’ve been everything to us for the last few years,” he said. “They’ve gone from four wins as freshmen to 15 as seniors. They’ve built the program back to where it is — I’ve got nothing but praise and love and admiration for them all.”
Monday was Marshfield’s last outing of the regular season. They’ll next play Rolla in the Class 3 District 10 tournament in Camdenton on Monday. Rogersville, meanwhile, has one more match, a home game against Carthage on Thursday, before heading into their Monday district tournament game against Aurora. That contest will take place in Monett.