Brittany Hoffman’s two goals seal Free State’s double-overtime win over Dodge City
In an effort to fully utilize her speed on the field, the Free State girls soccer coaching staff recently moved junior Brittany Hoffman from the defender position to forward.
During the final stages of Free State’s regional semifinal matchup against Dodge City, the move paid dividends once again for the Firebirds.
With the game tied through the midway point of double overtime, Hoffman used her speed to get past opposing defenders and attack an uncontrolled ball in Dodge City’s zone.
Once Hoffman gained control of the ball, she dribbled the ball to her left side and drilled it past goalkeeper Angie Ojeda to seal a 2-1 win for the Firebirds on Monday at FSHS.
“Since we moved Brittany to the attacking side of the ball, she’s been really aggressive,” said Free State coach Kelly Barah. “She’s tenacious, and we’re going to need that every step of the way now.”
The double-overtime goal was one of two on the night for Hoffman, who said she wanted to pick up a win for the seniors after a 2-1 loss to Hayden last Thursday on senior night.
“As a team, I felt like we possessed (the ball) a lot more, so I was like, ‘OK, I have to do it for my seniors,'” Hoffman said. “And I got the ball and boom, it went in. So that was good.”
Despite outshooting Dodge City, 17-2, Free State found itself trailing for most of the second half after Alicia Monge scored the opening goal for the Red Demons within the first five minutes of the second half.
With under three minutes to play in the match and Free State trailing, 1-0, Hoffman saved the Firebirds’ season when she dribbled past two defenders and buried a goal into the right side of the net to tie the match.
Senior Sydni Beeley said Hoffman’s increased usage on offense has made an immediate impact on the team. Hoffman has now scored three goals in her past two games.
“It’s been pretty rewarding to have someone up top who can not only run the whole length of the field, but fight for the ball and get some shots off, where we were kind of lacking,” said Beeley of Hoffman.
Beeley had several scoring chances of her own during the match. In the first five minutes, she saw two of her shots sail just over the net, and in the ensuing minutes, one of her shots dinged off the right side of the goal post.
Additionally, Free State (8-8-1) also saw sophomore Kate Lawrence tally four shots on goal. Sophomores Meron Hayden, Kenzie Rorabaugh and Maddie Dudley each had a shot on goal.
“We had a lot of chances to kind of run it from the midfield and attack,” Beeley said. “Unfortunately, I just couldn’t quite get (a goal). Shanked a few (shots), so it was kind of nice to see other teammates pick it up where we were slacking to pull out a win.”
That’s where Hoffman came in with a two-goal performance, and she said her team’s ability to work collectively has played a major role in her recent offensive success.
“We just possess really well,” Hoffman said. “We work together. We were moving a lot and passing really well. Lately we haven’t been (doing that), but this game, we really did.”
The eighth-seeded Free State will next play the winner of No. 1 Washburn Rural (14-1-1) and No. 16 Wichita Southeast (0-16) at 6 p.m. Thursday in the regional championship game.
With a spot at the state championship on the line, Beeley said it will be important to build off the Firebirds’ performance against the Red Demons, especially if Free State is pitted against top-seeded Washburn Rural.
“A lot of people look at Washburn’s record and say they have a better record than us, but I know our team, as an underdog, we kind of like that,” Beeley said. “We have a lot of heart and passion and we’ll rise to the occasion. I’m excited.”