Sherwood — Facing a rematch with the Bowmen, West Salem entered Saturday night hungry to advance to the state semifinals, but they would need to maneuver around a talented Bowmen squad with a strong defense that tested the Lady Titans offensive powerhouse in every way possible. However, backed by experienced goalkeeper Abby Knoll and with Madison McDougal running “the point” per say, the Lady Titans overcame adversity to punch their ticket to a date with Jesuit in the state semifinals.
The Bowmen had a plan offensively to overwhelm West Salem on defense, and the game plan was executed from the get go. Loma McNeese put one on the Lady Titans very early in this one, scoring in the 7th minute to seize the early lead 1-0. However, no plan is executed without a hitch and the Bowmen made a costly mistake in the 9th minute, as a foul setup a penalty kick for Paige Alexander, who drilled it to knot this match up at 1-1. For the rest of the half, Sherwood dominated offensively, spending a lot of time in Lady Titans territory while shutting down Paige Alexander and Madison McDougal, but no prime opportunities came for the rest of the half as they entered halftime knotted 1-1.
West Salem struggled to get a grip on the game in the second half as Sherwood continued their offensive and defensive dominance. Offensively, the Bowmen got four corner kicks and four to five shots on net at Abby Knoll, with many more plays happening in the box. For West Salem, they had an opportunity or two for most of the half, including a play that was stopped on a goalkeeper dive and the subsequent put back went off the cross bar. However, in the last minute, the ball finally went the right way for the Lady Titans. Madison McDougal delivered a gorgeous cross that hit Maddy Endler, who passed it to Paige Alexander right on the money, with Alexander driving the game winning header into the net to give West Salem the game winning goal and a trip to the state semifinals on Tuesday against Jesuit.
Abby Knoll and Paige Alexander talked the victory and punching their ticket to the state semifinals….
Abby Knoll on the defensive preparation, “Before the game I did some mental preparation with my teammates, we had to get really excited for this game. We knew they had a forward who is one of the best in the state and we planned for her. The defense executed it perfectly.”
Paige Alexander on the team performance, “Honestly this was not our best performance. Props to them for having so many opportunities, they should’ve capitalized on them and should have beat us. However, this is soccer and anything can happen on any night. 90% of the game could be them on offense, but the other 10% comes down to our goals and I honestly don’t know what happened. Our overall performance didn’t reach its peak and we could have done better.”