MELISSA – In a chilly, steady rain at Cardinal Stadium on Tuesday, Jan. 17, the Frisco Independence Knights topped Melissa, 4-0, in non-district play. The Knights (5-1-1) struck on back-to-back goals with under 12 minutes left in the first half and tacked on two more in the second.
“Frisco (Independence), like always, just moves the ball well,” Melissa head coach Kelley Pitzer said. “They’re very, very talented kids. They’ve got a lot of patience. I played, primarily 60-percent non-starters tonight, to give them a little time on the field. … With injuries, I wanted to give the kids a good chance to really see the field before we hit our tournament this week. Hopefully, we’ll get everybody back for that tournament. I’ve got three or four that really needed to heal up tonight, so I wasn’t going to even let them see the field.”
Of his charges, Pitzer said he felt the team performed well.
“The score didn’t really show it, losing 4-0, but defensively, they played very well against a team that moves the ball very fast,” he said. “And I knew that. That’s why I scheduled Frisco Independence. That’s why I like those schools, because I know that they move the ball quickly. So as we progress in the playoffs, we’re used to seeing something like that.”
Niles Obar’s goal from close range put the Class 5A Knights up, 3-0, nine minutes into the second half. Two minutes later, an offsides call nullified an Independence goal and then, with 11 minutes left to play, Jack Reuckert’s left-footer from inside the penalty box closed out the scoring.
The Cardinals (2-2) split time at goalkeeper this night, with starter Josh Love giving way to Nathan Smith in the second half.
“This part of the season I’ll split some time with them,” Pitzer said. “But once we hit district, you know, Josh Love is the District Goalkeeper of the Year the last two years. He’s going to stay in the pipes. I mean, he’s a fantastic goalkeeper.”
As for the soggy conditions, Pitzer noted its effects on a match.
“It actually almost speeds the game up,” he said, “because the ball moves so much faster on that wet turf. But it skids, it moves, it takes funny bounces. You’ve got to play feet. You’ve got to play to feet and not really to an area. It was no fun tonight, with the rain, but again I was proud of the way the boys played. I thought that they stepped up against the side [lineup] that they knew they would struggle with.”