In a Missouri Class 2 clash between the #2 state-ranked Parkway West Longhorns and the visiting #3 ranked Rolla Bulldogs, the visitors used a stout defense and a pair of goals from set pieces to earn the win tonight.
PHOTO GALLERY – #2 Parkway West hosts #3 Rolla
As befits a match between a pair of ranked squads, the early going saw plenty of action outside the boxes as the teams attempted to establish a rhythm and impose themselves on the game. The Longhorn’s pride themselves on their ball movement and the early going seemed to point to a positive result as they were able to win the numbers game in the midfield and they were keeping a close eye on Rolla’s Aaron Froelich, with 17 goals already this season.
The Bulldog’s have more weapons however and on this evening it was senior Austin Park who would make the largest difference. In the 25th minute he followed Froelich into the box on a corner kick. As the defense concentrated on Rolla’s prolific scorer, Park ran onto the ball on the edge of the six yard box and headed it past the GK (photo). Rolla came close again in the 39th but sophomore Tommy Stimac handled his responsibilities on the far post very well when on another set piece, he cleared a ball of the line on a second shot opportunity.
That kept it close and Parkway West came out hard in the second half hoping to tie the game. Three excellent opportunities in the first three minutes but Rolla’s defense held, including a clearance behind the GK by the Bulldog’s Jordan Kaden.
Rolla earned a set piece on a foul near the sideline about 10 minutes into the second half and once again they capitalized. This time it was Froehlich, scoring his 18th on the season and 134th in his career. It was remarkable, the kid can SKY! He out-leaped the defense and hammered a header just under the crossbar, a ball the keeper got his hands on but was unable to keep out of the net. Midway through the 2nd half Park scored a second goal, weaving through the defense inside the 18 yard box before slotting past the keeper to take the margin to 3-0.
West got one back in the 66th on a corner kick as Danny Bartlett was opportunistic at the far post. A second chance ball and he was prepared, reacting to the play and slotting back to the other post past a prone GK. It was all they Longhorns would manage on this evening as Rolla collapsed and protected their lead.
An early season win between two different but well-matched teams that swung on set pieces and defense. Sounds like a playoff game, doesn’t it.