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Lady Eagles respond to adversity by netting four unanswered goals

NIXA'S JADE JOHNSON beats a Republic player to the ball in the teams' match Wednesday.
NIXA'S JADE JOHNSON beats a Republic player to the ball in the teams' match Wednesday.

REPUBLIC — Any fans at Wednesday’s Class 4 District 5 Republic-Nixa semifinal who needed an explanation of an offside call received such a tutorial.

Surely, anyyone on hand who didn’t already know what constitutes offside, learned an offensive player can’t be closer to the goal line than the second-to-last defender at the time a pass is made.

Nixa’s Shaelee Franck was whistled for offside on four occasions in the first half, with one offside wiping out a goal. Not deterred, she went on to net a goal, without a whistle being blown, in the Lady Eagles’ 4-1 triumph.

“After a few (calls), it was getting to me,” Franck said. “But I've had so many offside calls this season that I just have to deal with it. I'm used to it. I think I have the most on our team. Me and Brooke (Teter) are switching a lot and the defense is pushing up on us. It's hard to read. But I think we're getting better at it.”

Both Franck and Nixa coach Evan Palmer weren’t convinced Franck was offside on each occasion. Either way, as Franck alluded to, the call is part of being a forward. 

“At least two I didn't think were offside. But I knew the first two were,” Franck said.

“I'm going to watch to make sure they were all offside,”  Palmer said. “They were really close. Sometimes, Shae looks bad, but the pass is too late. She’ll make the run and our passer needs to get her the ball quicker. But sometimes it's Shae going too soon. 

“The big thing is we want them to make more runs diagonally,” he added. “We want (our forwards) to come across the defense, then we put the ball through and then you change your direction and get to the ball. That's something we will work on.”

Nixa (21-1) learned of life as a trailer for the first time since its 3-2 loss to Park Hill South on March 29.  Republic (17-7) scored a mere :12 into the match.

Big-picture thinking, Palmer was almost glad to see his team fall behind.

“We were a little hyped and let them drop the ball too far,” Palmer said of the Republic goal. “One of my worries is we haven't been behind. The only time we'd been behind was against Park Hill South for the final 10 minutes of the game. We needed this. If we think we're pretty good and we're going to go on, we've got to find a way to overcome adversity, which we hadn't had a lot of this year. It was good to have that this game and good for our girls to see what they can do.”

The Lady Eagles' answer to Republic’s goal included goals by Teter and Franck in the first half.

“It was surprising when they scored,” Franck said. “But I know our team and knew we were obviously going to come back.”

Nixa didn’t let up in the second half, with Bailey Snyder and Bella Johnson adding goals.

“After we got scored on, we kept our cool,” Snyder said. “We found our groove and played our game. In the second half, we knew they were going to come out hard and our goal was to come out harder.”

Snyder, a junior center-back, grabbed the spotlight even while playing opposite Republic’s Ava Brown, generally regarded as the best center-back in the COC.

“She is as good as they come, an incredible player,” Palmer said. “She’s fun to watch when we’re not playing them. When we are playing them, it's hard to get around her. So, for us to get four goals was really impressive.”

Snyder is also among those to sing the virtues of Brown.

“We've played club (ball) together on and off and we've scrimmaged against each other in practices. It’s always good to see her,” Snyder said. “I’m an ’07 and she’s an ’06. I definitely look up to her. I tend to look at other people and see what they do that I can do to be the best player I can be. She's really good at sliding and that's something I aspire to do.”

Snyder has emerged as a candidate to score on set pieces. She has six goals on the season.

“She’s so good in the box of finding the ball and putting it away,” Palmer said.

“(Franck’s) corner (kicks) are amazing and so are Sam (McClain’s),” Snyder said. “We’ve been working a lot on them in practice, it all pays off.

“I'm used to saving goals. Scoring is an adrenaline rush, a feeling that is unmatchable,” she added.

Nixa advances to the final at 6 p.m. Monday against Kickapoo. The Lady Chiefs (20-6) handled Glendale by a 2-0 count in Wednesday’s other semifinal.