The Highland High School girls soccer team won its second straight Mississippi Valley Conference game after blanking visiting Mascoutah 3-0 last Thursday at Glik Park.
The victory lifted the Lady Bulldogs’ overall record to 5-9-1 and their conference ledger to 2-4 prior to Tuesday’s home match with Civic Memorial.
Highland’s senior trio of Morgan Sikora, Maddie Wilke and Mackenzie Kleinmann each scored one goal apiece, while senior goalkeeper Abbey Johnson stopped all nine Mascoutah shots on goal to record her second shutout of the season. Both of Johnson’s shutouts came against MVC foes, with the first coming in a 5-0 blanking of host Jerseyville on April 21.
HHS freshman Kallie Painter assisted on the first goal, which was the only one the Lady Bulldogs really needed. Painter, who also took all of Highland’s corner kicks in the game, fed Sikora in front of the Indians’ goal. Sikora booted a low shot to the far post to beat goalie Sam Barnhart for the game-winning marker 17 minutes, 10 seconds into the match. The goal increased Sikora’s team-leading total to 13 this spring.
Later in the first half, Wilke beat a Mascoutah defender to the ball before dribbling the ball to the 1-yard line and then tapping a low shot on the ground just past the outstretched hands of the diving Barnhart. It crawled across the goal line just inside the far post for Wilke’s first marker of the season to give the Lady Bulldogs an insurance tally at 2-0 with 6:57 to play in the first half.
“We just stayed on our offensive half, and we would carry it and get lots of through balls through their defense,” Wilke said. “It worked very well in this game. We passed good. We started out with a lot younger team, and now we’re finally playing together as a team and connecting passes more. With each game, we’re progressing even more, and it’s getting a lot better for us.”
Less than a minute into the second half, Sikora sent a good pass to Kleinmann, who buried it with a high shot in the upper netting to make it 3-0 in Highland’s favor.
“It started with moving the ball around really well, and I think we did that a lot this game; we connected a lot of passes,” said Kleinmann, whose goal was her third this spring. “We had good passes and good footwork from Morgan. We started out a little slow, I guess, but then we got into the flow of the game, and it really worked out well for us. Everybody is more comfortable now, and we’re playing a lot better. Getting a few wins helps, too.”
Granite City 3, HHS 1
Sikora scored her 12th goal of the season, an unassisted tally early in the first half, put Highland on the scoreboard first at Granite City on April 29.
Although the Lady Bulldogs were plenty competitive, their lead did not last. The Warriors rallied for three goals over the reset of the opening half as Grace Neidhardt notched a hat trick to stake her team to a two-goal lead into halftime.
In fact, the score remained 3-1 the rest of the way after neither team could find the back of the net over the final 40 minutes.
“We were very competitive,” said Highland coach Josh Oswald. “We lost 3-1 but we had a 1-0 lead. Granite City beat Triad and just lost to Edwardsville 2-1. So overall, it’s a loss, but I am pretty happy with how we played.”