MARYVILLE, Mo. — Football against Trinity Catholic, boys soccer against St. Pius X, boys basketball against St. Michael the Archangel, girls basketball against St. Pius X, and now girls soccer against Pembroke Hill — the Spoofhounds have been snake-bitten when going up against private schools in the postseason this year and unfortunately for Maryville soccer that continued on Wednesday night in the state quarterfinals.
“It is a great opportunity and great honor to play in a game like this and a great opportunity and a great honor to hold it here in Maryville,” Spoofhound coach Dale Reuter said. “A quarterfinal match for women's soccer here in Maryville, who would have thunk it?”
Spoofhound girls soccer is used to having to face tough private schools in the state tournament with St. Pius X ending the Hounds' season in sectionals each of the last two years and in the state quarterfinals the three years before that.
On Wednesday, they got their shot at somebody other than the Warriors as Pembroke Hill knocked off St. Pius X in sectionals on Tuesday to set up the quarterfinal tilt in the Hound Pound. The Raiders were able to bring their momentum from Tuesday north with them and escape Maryville with a 2-1 victory.
Pembroke Hill looked like the team coming off of a big-time win early and hit the field with a ton of energy. They created several chances in the first couple minutes, but Maryville keeper Laney Graham proved up to the challenge with several big saves.
“We had about the first five minutes of the half that were pretty shaky,” Maryville coach Dale Reuter said. “We got settled in and I thought we played a really good game.”
Maryville was able to collect themselves and began to create their own chances with junior Morgan Pettlon looking as healthy as she has all season on her injured ankle and junior Piper Zarbano winning ball after ball in the mid-field on looking to feed Pettlon.
“Aggressiveness is my thing,” Zarbano said. “That is kind of my special ability that I have.”
Ten minutes into the game, the roles were reversed as Pettlon, who draws a crowd of defenders whenever she touches the ball, flipped a shot across the front of the goal and with the defense focused on the Hounds' leading scorer, Zarbano slipped in behind and drove a shot right through the keeper's legs and into the back of the goal.
“Morgan had had a great shot and it bounced off,” Zarbano said. “I was right there and it couldn't have been better.”
It was Zarbano's second goal of the year. She joined the team as a transfer student this year.
“My old team was a team, but coming into this team, they motivate me,” Zarbano said. “I was kind of scared but they all come as a team and we are like one big family.”
Graham and the Spoofhound defense were able to control the rest of the half despite seeing limited minutes from all-conference defensive back Stephanie Ingram, nursing a lingering leg injury. The biggest threat the Raiders mustered the rest of the half came on a desperation kick as time expired from near midfield that was lofted perfectly and forced Graham to jump to knock it away and preserve a 1-0 halftime lead.
“I thought we were settling in a and taking over the game,” Reuter said. “I was very pleased with how that first half ended. We talked at halftime about it taking another 40 minutes to win this game. This is the quarterfinal game — you win this game, you go on to state and you guarantee yourself two more games. Nobody is going to quit in the quarterfinal game. There are no bad teams here.”
Pembroke Hill responded to open the second half with a goal that was nearing impossible to defend as defender Abigail Long connected on another lofting shot which found the corner of the net just outside of Graham's reach.
The Raiders completely flipped the game less than 30 seconds later with Dajana Pierre crossing the ball to Olivia Sabates for another goal and a 2-1 Raider lead.
Maryville had several more good chances the rest of the way, but the best came with 33:20 left in the second half as Pettlon weaved her way through the Raider defense and found herself with just the keeper between her and the goal with a Raider defender on her hip. Pettlon pressured the goal with the ball and the defender guarding Pettlon attempted to steal the ball, but collided with her own keeper instead.
The ball came loose with both Raider players on the ground and Pettlon was able to regather it and calmly knock it into the goal for the apparent equalizer. The official ran in, however, and waved off the goal — ruling that the keeper had a hand on the ball with the ball on the ground, giving her control and making the ball dead.
“We did have an opportunity and that is why I talked to the refs right there,” Reuter said. “I thought their girls ran into each other, the ball came out and Morgan scored. That is the tying score right there. What they said is that the goalie reached through the crowd, had her hand on the ball with the ball on the ground, which means two hands on the ball, you stop it and its a goal kick coming out. Unfortunate for us, fortunate for them.”
The Spoofhound crowd voiced its displeasure and Reuter spoke with the officials after the game regarding the call, but the call had been made and there was no changing it.
“He is a great guy, he is a great ref, he treated us right and it is just a call in that game,” Reuter said. “Sometimes you get the breaks and sometimes you don't. We would love to have that one back, especially in the magnitude of this game right here, we could be going to overtime right now. But that is the way the ball bounces.”
The Raiders will get the winner of Visitation Academy and Southern Boone in Wednesday's state semifinals.
The Spoofhounds will say goodbye to seniors McKenzie Salcedo, Aubrey Jones, Maile Baker, Chiara Ghera and Kate Yocum. The four-year seniors finish their careers with 60 wins and four district championships.
“Seniors are special, they always are,” Reuter said. “Those are the girls that stuck with the program for four years. .. There is a lot of dedication, a lot of pain, a lot of trials, a lot of tribulations — there is a lot that goes on and to get there as a senior and for Kate and Aubrey to be starters, it just means a lot to us and this organization. I can't say enough about them.”
While the senior class was very decorated, the Spoofhounds will return much of their core next season including players like Cleo Johnson, Pettlon and Ingram, who all spent most of the year either out with injuries or battling injuries. The Hounds will hope to clear that private-school hurdle next season.
“We aren't done by any means,” Reuter said. “We are just one step closer to our dream.”