Free State soccer coach Kelly Barah was happy but not ecstatic following his team’s 1-0 home victory over Olathe North on Thursday night.
“Excited because it’s a win, but really frustrated,” Barah said. “We couldn’t get to do the things we want to do and stick it in the back of the net. But we will take a ‘W.’”
Most of the coach’s dissatisfaction came from his team’s inability to focus at certain points.
“We just got rattled a little bit with some of the fouls that we were getting, so we couldn’t recover from that quickly enough,” Barah said. “But again, credit to them for playing tough. We’ll try to get better from that.”
The Firebirds picked up their only goal before halftime, as Hadyn Hutchinson ran free on a breakaway.
“I was nervous, because the goalie was coming out, and I didn’t have a lot of space,” Hutchinson said. “I tried to bend it over to the right corner.”
The sophomore pushed the ball into the side of the net for the Firebirds’ only tally.
Once again, Free State’s defense was able to hold an opponent scoreless. The Firebirds have posted shutouts in seven of their 12 games.
“(Our defenders) do a good job at talking, so if someone goes up, they make sure someone drops back,” Hutchinson said. “We get the most people we can behind the ball, so they can’t get numbers up on us.”
Barah was quick to credit his two center midfielders, Kylee Loneker and Margaux Gill, for helping the back four defend against North (2-10).
Free State also posted the shutout with a new keeper. Sophomore Annie Hiel received the start after senior Elena Auer was forced to sit out a game following a red card in the Firebirds’ last match against Olathe South.
“She played like she’s been playing varsity all her life,” Barah said of Hiel. “That’s what this team is all about: The person on the bench is always ready to step in there and do the job.”
Free State (9-1-2) will play host to No. 1-ranked Olathe East on Tuesday.