The Smith-Cotton Lady Tigers soccer team has been warming up to a new formation since their first match.
Each match, head coach Adam Murray put an emphasis on the team keeping their formation’s shape throughout their buildup into an attack. And while the results wouldn’t show it – the Lady Tigers are currently 9-3 after a double-penalty kick loss to Helias yesterday – confidence was lacking in the formation until recently.
Strangely enough, they may have found it during a loss.
Marilyn Ream, forward and midfielder for Smith-Cotton, said the team gained some poise at last week’s Kickapoo Tournament in Springfield.
The Lady Tigers went 2-1 with wins over Willard and Kickapoo. Their only loss came at the hands of No. 7 ranked Nerinx Hall in overtime.
“This weekend we dominated,” Marilyn Ream said. “We gave ‘em a game.”
Newfound assurance in their formation comes as the Lady Tigers prepare to host the Smith-Cotton Soccer Tournament, beginning tomorrow at 4 p.m. They host Raymore–Peculiar at Tiger Stadium and face Milton High School from Wisconsin at 8 p.m.
Ream described the Ray-Pec game last year, a 4-0 loss, as “really tough,” but Brianna Pollitt, senior forward and midfielder, said this year is different.
“I just feel like we’re a different team this year,” Pollitt said. “The way that we’ve been playing lately, we never played like that last year.”
Senior Jillian Vansell added to the sentiment that more confidence means better results.
“This year, I think our confidence is higher, especially after Kickapoo,” Vansell said.
The formation adjustment, Murray said, was to improve team defense. While the Lady Tigers have allowed more goals through 12 games than last year (14 to 8), they have matched their shutout total through that time.
Assistant coach Ethan Weller preaches that there are actually two positions in soccer: on and off the field. Murray expanded on that philosophy.
“Everybody has a job to defend,” Murray said. “We’ve stressed that … It’s the same in any sport, defense wins championships. We’re trying to push, be a tough defensive team. That’s what we want. Regardless if we win or lose we want to make it tough on other people.”
First kick for Smith-Cotton versus Ray-Pec is scheduled for 4 p.m. tomorrow at Tiger Stadium. Milton plays Ray-Pec and Smith-Cotton at 6 and 8 p.m., respectively at Tiger Stadium.
At Susie Ditzfeld Field, first kick between Hickman and Grain Valley is scheduled for 4 p.m. Clinton faces Grain Valley at 6 p.m. Pool play concludes with Clinton and Hickman at 8 p.m. and the tournament resumes Saturday at 10 a.m.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2