by Michael Smith
Grain Valley girls soccer coach Brett Lewis admitted he didn’t use the most sound strategy.
Late in a Suburban White Conference match with William Chrisman, he had center back Lexi Nicholson, who normally plays in the back, up top to help her try and score a goal.
There was a reason for that, though.
Nicholson’s mother said she would buy her a dog if she and her sister Taylor could score a goal in the same game. She didn’t get one on Tuesday at home but will still have a chance later in the season to do so.
The Eagles six players who at least had one goal or assist as the team cruised to an 8-0 mercy-rule victory over the Bears Tuesday at home.
“I wish I had a tactical reason to put Lexi up top, but it was just to get her a dog,” Lewis said while smiling. “Her sister scored one in the first half, and we were like man, this would be an opportunity to get her a dog.”
Nicholson hopes to score later in the season so she can get the dog she always wanted.
“We are both defenders and don’t score, so my mom promised to get us a dog if we both scored,” Lexi Nicholson said. “I want a golden retriever. I didn’t score but my sister did.”
“It was tiring (to play up top). I was like a lost puppy. I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Freshman midfielder Radleigh Childers made an effort to try and set up Nicholson for goals in the second half. The senior almost had one midway through the second period, but the shot just went above the crossbar. Childers joked and yelled “It’s a half point!”
The team may not have been able to help Nicholson get a dog yet, but it played sound, fundamental soccer as it spread the ball around on offense. Childers, who had multiple shot attempts hit the posts of the goal early in the season, had two goals and one assist.
“In games like this, we try to get our backs involved, so we can get them a dog,” Childers said while laughing.
She is the fourth Childers sister to play for Grain Valley and she is proving to be a key player for the 4-3 Eagles.
“She missed a lot of opportunities in those first six games, but she has been scoring lately,” Lewis said. She is building more chemistry with her teammates and she’s definitely going to score a lot more goals. Her finishing has gotten a little better.”
Along with Childers, junior Meghan Knust also had herself a game with two goals and one assist. She got a through ball from a teammate and slipped a shot by Chrisman goalkeeper Abigal Ferguson in the 67th minute, and she sent a long pass to junior Annabelle Totta, who knocked in a header with 8:55 left to end the game. She also scored in the first half.
“Knust normally plays a defensive midfield role, but today, we tried something different,” Lewis said. “We put her up top because she’s a really good target player, as well. I feel like every time we put her up there, she has a knack for finding the back of the net.”
Other Eagles to contribute on offense were Totta with two goals, Taylor Nicholson and Emma Thiessen with a goal each and junior midfielder Kylee Bragaw with two assists.
“I think our team chemistry is definitely growing,” Knust said. “At the beginning of the season, it was kind of iffy. We worked well together but couldn’t find that last key part that we needed. But we are starting to get it.”
Grain Valley freshman Raleigh Childers, left, had two goals and one assist, and she attempted to set up teammate Lexi Nicholson for a goal so she would win a dog from her parents during an 8-0 mercy-rule win over William Chrisman Tuesday at home. Photo credit: Michael Smith