How can things get better for the Union soccer Wildcats?
By virtue of a 4-2 win over Rolla Wednesday and a 3-3 tie Thursday against Fox, the Wildcats will play for the Pacific Tournament championship Friday night.
Considering the Wildcats weren’t in the tournament until a few weeks ago until the Hancock Tournament was called off, that’s a positive result.
Union (3-1) plays host Pacific for the title Friday at 7:30 p.m.
In recent meetings, the Rolla Bulldogs had dominated the Union soccer Wildcats, including a 6-0 win in the 2018 Class 3 District 9 championship game.
Union was able to exact some revenge Wednesday, winning in the Pacific Tournament, 4-2.
Union Assistant Coach Brady Weinhold, standing in for Head Coach Josh Wideman, said it was all Rolla early.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Weinhold said. “The first half we struggled mightily in most aspects of the game. We did not communicate in the back, we did not connect passes in the midfield and we lacked any sort of finishing attack up top. Rolla did a very good job, taking advantage of our lack of preparedness to play.”
Rolla scored the game’s first two goals and was up 2-0 at the half.
“Thankfully we were able to minimize the damage and get to halftime,” Weinhold said. “As poorly as the first half went you could tell the kids didn’t believe they were defeated yet, which was encouraging. We talked about leadership, communication and playing for each other during halftime. We felt that if our defense refocused in the second half we could use our speed as a strength up top and on the wings.”
Daniel Thwing scored to put Union on the board in the second half. Will Herbst assisted.
Herbst then scored on an assist by Jack Wagnaar to tie it in the 62nd minute.
Wagnaar scored in the 68th minute with Jace Pipes assisting and that gave Union its first lead of the game.
Thwing netted his second goal with two minutes to play to give Union the 4-2 victory. Ardell Young assisted.
Cooper Bailey made 10 saves in goal for the Wildcats.
“I was extremely proud of the boys after the game,” Weinhold said. “At halftime they had a choice to make. They could give up and accept the game was over, or they could come together and play for each other and see what happens. Coach Wideman has worked very hard to instill that type of character in our soccer players and that second half showed exactly what can happen when players fight for each other for a full 80 minutes.”
The Wildcats forged a 3-3 tie Thursday with the Arnold school to win the pool.
Union scored twice in the first 10 minutes to take a 2-0 advantage.
Herbst scored the first goal, assisted by Young. Young scored the second goal, assisted by Herbst.
Fox came back to convert a penalty kick midway through the first half and then tied it, but Young’s second goal of the game, assisted by Luke Smith, gave Union a 3-2 lead.
Fox tied it in the 53rd minute and the game ended, 3-3.
Cooper Bailey made seven saves in the game.