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MRVC Champions

Lady Cats finish perfect in conference play with 2-1 win over Oak Grove

By Christopher Tenpenny

The Harrisonville girls’ soccer team found itself in overtime for the fourth time in six games.

While the Lady Cats had come out on top the previous three times, this game was different, this was for the conference championship.

The Lady Cats travel to Oak Grove Monday for the final game of the Missouri River Valley Conference (MRVC) play. Harrisonville had a perfect 7-0 record entering the game, but Oak Grove was 6-1 with the lone loss coming to 6-1 Pleasant Hill. An Oak Grove win and the three teams would share the conference title.

Nobody likes to share, so when Oak Grove scored early in the first half, Harrisonville started to feel the pressure.

“We knew they were solid and going to last year, they beat us 1-0,” Harrisonville head coach Dan Coleman said. “We made a mistake early that led to the first goal and we started to feel the pressure build.”

Neither team would be able to score for the next 40 minutes until senior Katie Fitzgerald found the back of the net late in the second half to tie the game at 1-1. The game was going to overtime.

As previously mentioned, the Lady Cats had been here before. They defeated Belton and Pleasant Hill in penalty kicks before defeating Maryville 2-1 in overtime. All three of those games were on the road, as was Monday’s game.

“You can’t create those moments in practice no matter how hard you try,” Coleman said. “You have to go out there and feel that pressure and gain that experience in the games. We’ve been getting the job done, but you start to get worried about the math and wonder if we’re eventually going to lose one of these.”

Lady Cats finish perfect in conference play with 2-1 win over Oak Grove With only a few minutes remaining in the first overtime, the Lady Cats defense was able to take the ball away from the Oak Grove offense. Kennedy Smalley found herself with the ball and was able to get into open space, drawing several defenders.

Smalley was able to pass the ball to Abbey Overbay, the team’s leading scorer. Overbay used her speed to get past her defender toward the goal. As more Oak Grove defenders swarmed, Overbay passed the ball back to Maddie Lalman who
one-touched the ball into the goal. Harrisonville had won the conference out-right.

“This is huge for us,” Coleman said. “We were right on the cusp last year but lost by one to both Pleasant Hill and Oak Grove. Being able to do it with this group is really special and shows what we are building here.”

The Lady Cats secured the fifth MRVC Championship in school history, but the first since 2014.

“We struggled for a few years there,” Coleman said. “We’ve been rebuilding and retooling the last few years and the girls have bought in. It’s really satisfying to see from a coaching perspective.”

Harrisonville moves to 14-4 on the season and won seven games in a row. The Lady Cats earned the No. 1 seed in the Class 2 District 7 tournament starting Saturday at Oak Grove. The championship game will take place May 19 if the Lady Cats were to win its first two games. Coleman said the team has its sights set on a district championship.

“This conference championship is great, but we have bigger fish to fry as they say,” Coleman said. “We’ve got a lot of good teams in our district, including Oak Grove and Pleasant Hill. We also played Odessa and Summit Christian Academy close who we could see in the semifinals. We need to stay focused and realize just because we beat these teams earlier and won the conference, it does not equate to a district championship.”

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