(BELLEVILLE, IL) As with any newly-minted sports franchise, there are going to be historical benchmarks recorded as the season progresses.
Competing in their inaugural campaign within the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL), the St. Louis Lions women’s club can now add one more achievement to their ever-expanding list.
This comes as a result of their impressive 0-0 draw against defending WPSL national champion Fire & Ice SC Wednesday night at Althoff Catholic High School in front of 350.
The solo point gained in the stalemate pushed St. Louis’ record to 1-1-2 for five points accumulated and retention of third place in the WPSL’s Heartland Conference.
“We’re very happy because we’re starting to come together as a team,” assessed Lions WPSL Head Coach Geoff Lorimier afterwards. “Everyone is starting to learn their roles and accept their roles.”
In the first half when Fire & Ice cruised close to a shot on net, starting defenders Madison Schmeid, Alli Klug, Brittany Steiger and Bella Palazzolo would put on the clamp down.
Meanwhile, midfielders Maddie Pokorny, Cristina Rodriguez, Courtney Reimer, Aillson Verville and Casey Wood as well as forward Mackenzie Rief created early opportunities to put shots on net and hassle starting Fire & Ice goalie Kelsey Dossey.
Conversely, Fire & Ice’s talented squad of championship vets, propelled by forward Sarah Luebbert and midfielder Kailey Utley, put pressure on Lions’ goalie Olivia Silverman, who was seeking her second straight shutout.
If the drama between the “queen pins” and the “underdogs” wasn’t intense enough in the first 45, imagine the drama as the second progressed.
Fire & Ice had a trifecta of chances within the first fifteen, highlighted by Abby O’ Keefe’s line-drive at 52nd minute that was snared by Silverman.
The Lions almost broke the deadlock at the 65-minute mark as Palazzolo’s shot on net went inches above the cross bar and caromed off the football goal post.
St. Louis pushed action deep and achieved corner kicks with ten and five minutes remaining and put Pokorny with the task to launch. Ultimately for both, Fire & Ice’s defense smothered preying Lions and the tie was retained.
In the final minute of play, the defending champs took one final stab at victory but O’ Keefe’s close-range shot went high and wide left of net.
Fire & Ice out shot the Lions 6-2 in the second but St. Louis did not bulge and recorded the impressive 0-0 draw. Most importantly in areas not involving numbers, the Lions competed Wednesday as a total cohesive unit.
“Everyone is working hard for each other,” said Lorimier. “We’ll take the moral victory tonight and that will give us the confidence to work forward.”
With the draw, Fire & Ice retains second place in the WPSL Heartland Conference with a 2-0-1 record for seven points. The pair will meet again June 29.
“They’re going to be ready for us the next time,” predicted Lorimier. “I think we’re going to be better prepared for them as well.”
Utilizing the momentum claimed in their three-match point streak, St. Louis seeks redemption against the squad that handed them their lone loss this season, current conference leader KC Athletics Pride, Sunday afternoon at the Tony Glavin Soccer Complex.
The Lions sputtered in a 2-0 road setback to the Pride (3-0-0, nine points) at their season opener two weekends ago.
However, a change in venue, and perhaps a change in attitude, might propel St. Louis to a victory that would rattle the conference standings.
“It’s been positive progress through all the games and that’s the stuff that I’m most happy about,” Lorimier said. “The sessions have been first-class and I think we’re starting to see that on the pitch. So yeah, we’re really excited for this weekend.”
Tickets for Sunday’s match at Tony Glavin Soccer Complex (2 Woodlands Parkway, Cottleville, MO) are $10 apiece for adults and $5 for children ages 6-18.