The Hornets entered their home matchup against Benton on Tuesday night on a bit of a skid. After starting the season 2-1, Chillicothe was 2-7 entering this contest but the tough competition that the Hornets had been facing prepared them for a paramount conference game. Throughout a series of close defeats the Hornets had been quietly improving as a team and they put it on full display in front of their home fans against Benton.
While Benton finished the game with more shots on goal and more corner kick attempts, it was Chillicothe who made the most of their chances, capitalizing by scoring one goal in each half while completely shutting down their opponent, recording a clean sheet against the Cardinals.
Scoreless with under three minutes to play before halftime, Hornets senior mid-fielder, Josh Adams controlled the ball inside the center circle, he played it forward to teammate and fellow senior Jacob Adams who set himself up with a great first touch beyond the last line of the defense, used his speed to race around his defender, dribbled into the penalty box on the left side of the pitch and the calmly slotted the ball into the far post with his left foot beyond the reach of the Benton goalkeeper. Chillicothe would take the 1-0 lead into halftime, and the score remained that way until the 76th minute of action. With Benton still trailing by a goal late, the Cardinals were forced to push extra players forward in hopes of scoring, however Chillicothe’s defense continued to hold strong, clearing the ball all the way downfield and into Benton’s penalty box where defender Rylan Piepergerdes was trying to get the ball back to an attacking position for Benton. However, a pair of Hornets, Jacob Adams along with Coy Jones trapped Piepergerdes near the end-line. Adams dispossessed the ball from Piepergeres who then committed a foul against Adams, setting up a penalty kick for Chillicothe with just 4:39 to play and the Hornets already leading 1-0. Adams stepped up to the spot for Chillicothe looking for his 2nd goal of the match. His left footed shot was low and to the right corner, rippling the net and extending the Hornets lead. Chillicothe continued their stout defense for the remainder of the contest and walked away with a 2-0 result.
Along with Adams and his pair of goals for the Hornets, the defense for Chillicothe deserves tremendous praise for their effort preventing Benton from scoring all match. Led by senior Tyler Stephens, and anchored by goalkeeper James Matthew the Hornets held Benton scoreless, which is only the 2nd time in 8 matches for the Cardinals that they have not scored a goal.
Coach Cunningham praised his teams effort following the victory, “I am so proud and happy for our guys after tonight’s match. This was by far our most complete match of the year. After a challenging weekend our guys bounced back and played really well against a talented St. Joe Benton team. Jacob Adams scored both of our goals, and our defense was solid all night, led by Tyler Stephens, Charlie Reeter, and Ryan Schuler. James Mathew once again made several really nice saves to earn the shutout.”
Chillicothe improves to 3-7 on the season and 3-2 in MEC play, their next match will be next Tuesday at Kirksville, another game you can hear live on KCHI.