FORT BRANCH-- In a conference match that pitted two legitimate PAC title contenders against one another, Forest Park got the better of Gibson Southern in girls soccer Thursday, 3-1. The game was more evenly played than the score, as the Rangers were able to capitalize on a few more opportunities down the stretch than the Titans.
The first half saw both teams with scoring chances from the jump, as the Titans were attempting to play through balls into their forwards, and the Rangers were primarily attacking on the wing.
After getting off six shots in the first 25 minutes, the Rangers broke through for a goal in minute 27 when freshman Leah Dilger found the back of the net to make it 1-0. That score held up at half, as the Titans had plenty of opportunities themselves, but were unable to get back into it.
Come the second half, momentum began to shift the Titans way as junior forward Sydney Goedde started to find room behind the Forest Park back four, who were playing a high line trying to catch attackers offsides. This, coupled with Ranger goalkeeper Madison Wathen coming out of then net to play sweeper, made it harder on the Titans to find room via through balls behind the Ranger defense.
Goedde finally broke through and got in on a breakaway, beating Wathen on a shot in the 5th minute of the second half to even the score at one.
"If she (Wathen) is going to play high like that, as soon as she screws up we will just counter-attack and chip her," Gibson Southern coach Holi Cato said.
Unfortunately for the Titans, that was the only goal they were able to muster. Forest Park answered right back two minutes later with their second goal, this one from junior captain Kenlee Gehlhausen. The third goal from the Rangers came two minutes after the second, as another freshman found the back of the net, this time it was Emma Grundhoefer.
Gibson Southern got an opportunity to get within one with 10 minutes to go when they were awarded an indirect free kick in the box. They tapped the ball to senior midfielder Maddey Maurer, but her shot was blocked.
Both goalkeeper's made multiple good saves, as the game opened up in the second half and each team was able to get good looks. Cato was impressed with the Titans goalkeeper Stephanie Cullom, one of the bright spots for the Titans on the afternoon.
"Stephanie has been spectacular the past five games. She's came out of nowhere and just been saving everybody, shot after shot, save after save," Cato said.
As for what broke down defensively for the Titans, Cato feels like her team's communication is lacking at the moment as the Titans are going through a rough stretch, having lost their last four games now, (with a cancellation mixed in).
"Nobody communicates, we're not in formation, people get antsy, and no one wants to be patient," Cato said.
The Titans are now 5-5, 2-2 in PAC play. They will play next on Tuesday, September 18 when they welcome crosstown rival Princeton Community to The Fort for a 5 p.m. start.