“We played alright,” senior captain Neal McKiernan said with a smile after Tiger Soccer’s second game of the weekend, when they faced a highly-touted SLU High, who hails from the suburbs of St. Louis.
Hoping to improve off of their game the night before, Head Coach Andy Schulten started a wide array of players, keeping some of their starters on the bench as early substitutes. The Tigers had trouble early in the 5th minute as the Junior Bills played a smart ball through the middle, finding a player for a shot. Goalie Davis George made an incredible save to fend off the first shot, but the Bills found the rebound and converted for the first goal of the game.
The first half of the match was one of disorganization. Offensive chances for the Tigers were sparse, and St. X found themselves constantly defending against the SLU attack. George consistently bailed out the defense, making save after save for the Tigers. Heading into halftime, though, the Junior Bills of St. Louis led 1-0.
Opening up the second half, the Tigers were able to draw a free kick from close range just outside the goalie box. Junior Trent Stigler struck the shot well, aiming around the defensive wall and heading straight for the bottom right corner. The SLU goalie laid out perfectly, though, just nudging the shot aside.
Moments later in the 56th minute, the Junior Bills snuck through the Tiger defense again, scoring their second goal of the game. The Tiger offense was unable to generate any more good scoring opportunities, and eventually fell to the Junior Bills 2-0.
This weekend, the Tigers played two quality teams from out of town. For McKiernan, these two games were “great learning opportunities” which he hopes will improve the team enough to “go far in the tournament at the end of the year.” The team hopes to take what they’ve learned in their competitive friendlies and put it towards their important district matches coming up in the near future.