Facing two challenges this week at home, the Union soccer Lady ’Cats passed one.
Union (9-2, 4-0 before St. James) defeated Sullivan (9-4, 2-1) in a showdown of teams then unbeaten in Four Rivers Conference action Tuesday, 6-1.
“We expected a good game from Sullivan and they didn’t disappoint,” Union Head Coach Fennessey said.
On Wednesday, the Lady ’Cats fell to perennial state powerhouse Incarnate Word Academy (6-2) by a 4-0 score.
“They’re a good team and they controlled the majority of the play,” Fennessey said. “It was about 60-40 in the first half. In the second half, they stepped up and knocked the wind out of our sails.”
Union’s league game Thursday at St. James was called off due to weather and field conditions. It hasn’t been rescheduled as of press time.
The Lady ’Cats play next week in the 24th Annual CYC Joseph Carenza Memorial Tournament, opening against Lindbergh Monday. That match is scheduled for St. Louis Soccer Park Field No. 5.
“Lindbergh is another competitive large school program,” Fennessey said. “They’re tough every year. We’re looking forward to seeing what the girls can learn from playing tough teams.”
Union will play either Rockwood Summit or Duchesne on Tuesday on Field No. 5. If Union wins its opener, it will be at 6 p.m. A loss would put Union into the 4:15 p.m. game.
The tournament concludes Thursday. Other teams in the event are Oakville, Washington, Rosati-Kain and Webster Groves.
Union returns to FRC action April 29 in Sullivan. After that, the Lady ’Cats will host St. James May 2 before closing the league with games at Pacific May 6 and St. Clair May 7.
Taking on FRC challenger Sullivan, the Lady ’Cats wasted little time going to work.
Union took the lead for good in the second minute on a goal by freshman Taylor Gaebe. She was assisted by senior Alyssa Coons, who crossed the ball in from the right side.
Gaebe took the ball at the far side and was able to kick it into the goal to give Union a quick lead.
“We played pretty well in the first half and got out to the lead,” Fennessey said. “Sullivan put pressure on us. They were physical.”
For the game, Union’s target forward, sophomore Bethany Coons, led the scoring attack with three tallies. She scored twice in the first half and once in the second half.
Senior Alyssa Coons posted one goal and two assists.
Gaebe and junior Kayla Thornton each scored once. Thornton also assisted on a goal.
Senior Alicia Brueggemann provided two assists. Kaylyn Bigley also assisted on a goal.
Senior Briana Lakebrink made six saves in goal.
“I would have liked to have preserved the shutout, but overall I’m happy with the way we played defense. Alicia Brueggemann did a nice job. I thought Kaylyn Bigley did a nice job in the middle of the field creating scoring chances.”
Fennessey said others contributed as well.
“We had good midfield play from Natalie Helling,” Fennessey said. “ She played several good balls into the middle of the field. We got good minutes from some junior varsity players in the first half. Overall, it was a nice game from everybody.”
Sullivan’s lone tally came from junior Michala Martin early in the second half to cut Union’s lead to 4-1.
“You can’t give a team three corner kicks in a row,” Fennessey said. “They’re much improved on the corner kicks.”
Kelsey Hedges played in goal for the Lady Eagles.
Gaebe’s goal in the second minute was followed by the first Bethany Coons goal in the 11th minute. Again, the ball was crossed in from the right side by Alyssa Coons.
“We talked about getting out to an early lead and how important that would be,” Fennessey said.
In the 32nd minute, Alyssa Coons scored her goal after Thornton drove into the right corner and crossed the ball. It actually went off a Sullivan defender and bounced back to Coons, who kneed it past Hedges for a goal.
Union added a final goal of the half in the 39th minute. Bethany Coons drove down the right middle portion of the field and scored to give Union a commanding 4-0 lead at the intermission.
Sullivan was dangerous at times during the first half and followed that up in the second. The Lady Eagles scored the first goal of the second half, but Union clamped down from there and added two more goals of their own.
Looking for a challenge, Union took on Incarnate Word Academy Wednesday night at home. The Red Knights left with a 4-0 victory.
“We had some good scoring chances in the first half,” Fennessey said. “We were able to play deep balls over the top and make runs. That’s what they were giving us. Their goalkeeper came out and made several big stops for them near the top of the box.”
For Union, Lakebrink made 15 saves on the 19 shots she faced.
Incarnate Word led 1-0 at the half and added three goals in the second 40 minutes of play.
“There was under 10 minutes to go in the first half when they scored,” Fennessey said. “In the first five or six of the second half, they got a penalty kick. That was the point where we started to hang our heads a little. We’ve got to keep moving and keeping our heads up.”
Fennessey said the first Incarnate Word goal was what Union likes to do.
“That goal was exactly what we’re trying to do,” Fennessey said. “The girl made a run to the end line and crossed it to an open girl at the back post. She one-timed it into the net.”
Andrea Brown recorded the shutout, stopping all nine shots she faced.
Tori Kruse, Melanie Donaldson, Elly Freesmeier and Maddie Orf scored goals for the Red Knights. Kruse, Katie Kienstra and Kelsey Murphy added assists.
“Kaylyn Bigley did a a really good job playing through balls to the forwards,” Fennessey said. “Bri Clark was instrumental in creating chances as well.”