Hailey Cloud’s 32-yard shot past Ladue goalkeeper Maddie Milton with 17:35 to play in the first half was all the Union soccer Lady ’Cats needed Friday to repeat as Blue Cat Tournament champions, 1-0.
“It was a tough game,” Union Head Coach Matt Fennessey said. “Ladue brought their best performance tonight. Hat’s off to them for coming out here and really putting on a good performance in this tournament.”
The game at Stierberger Stadium featured action at both ends.
Union had more of the chances, getting 15 shots on goal.
Union’s Hannah Olive made seven saves in the shutout and got help from her defense on other occasions as the ball got away near the Union goal.
“They had a good chance in the first half down there and another one which seemed it was cleared off the line,” Fennessey said. “They’re just consistent. We want to play solid defense. We did it again tonight. Ella Keltner stepped in and did a great job. Destiny Boehm played more minutes tonight than she has all season and did a really good job back there. Erika Toelke and Emma Cloud anchored it for us. Adding Hannah into goal is like having another defender back there the way she comes off the line and protects the back line for us. It was just a solid performance by them.”
Ladue played physical and was able to slow down Union’s top scorer, Emily Gaebe, but was not able to halt all top scoring chances.
“I think they got under our skin a little bit and frustrated us,” Fennessey said. “It wasn’t a dirty game, just a physical game. We were giving it to them as well. This is the type of game you want to be in heading into the playoffs. You want to play a team like Ladue which has been there.”
“They were a good team to play in this tournament,” Cloud said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better team to play against in the championship game.”
In the end, it was Cloud who made the difference.
Cloud was in the middle of the field moving with the ball and had a big cushion with nobody moving to defend her.
“I really was looking for one of my forwards and I saw I was wide open,” Cloud said. “I decided why not. I had made one this year so I decided to try again. It just got over, so it felt pretty good.”
Instead of finding a teammate, Cloud took a chance and drilled a hard shot right at the net. Milton went for the ball, but it went into the goal on the left side.
“That might have caught the goalkeeper off balance a little bit,” Fennessey said. “Their goalkeeper did a fantastic job all night long. Any corner kicks or free kicks we tried to be dangerous on, she did a great job of snuffing those out. Haley was able to pick her head up and get that one. What a great finish for us.”
Union kept its celebrations to a minimum.
“I think they were a little frustrated with the way they played,” said Fennessey. “I think that they are hungry for more and they could have done a little bit better. I told them they’re not going to win every game 10-0 or by seven or eight goals. This is the type of game which will build you and complete you as a team moving forward. At the end of the game, we beat a good team and won a championship. It was a good reason to be excited.”
Cloud said it was good to repeat as the champion.
“It feels pretty good to do it two years in a row,” Cloud said. “It was a lot of hard work, definitely.”
Union didn’t have much time to enjoy the title. The Lady ’Cats went back to work Monday with a road game at Webster Groves.
The Lady ’Cats then welcome Washington Wednesday in a match which could determine the top seed for the upcoming district tournament.
Union closes out next week with games Tuesday at Warrenton and Wednesday at home against MICDS.