In its third straight district title game appearance, the Lady Hound soccer team settled another post-season score.
Matched against a St. Pius X team that ended its 2012 season in sectionals, top-seeded Maryville returned the favor a round sooner, beating the second-seeded Warriors 3-1 in Wednesday's Class 1 District 16 championship match at Dave Goodwin Field.
The win gave rising Class 1 power Maryville its second straight district title and a second straight playoff berth, a year after it avenged a finals loss to Bishop LeBlond to earn the first of those achievements in school history.
The Lady Hounds (16-3) will take on District 15 champion Pembroke Hill in sectionals Tuesday in Kansas City. St. Pius X, the fourth place team in Class 1 last year, finished at 14-5-1.
"It's very impressive," said Maryville head coach Bayo Oludaja. "The girls have worked hard and they've been looking forward to this. I'm glad to see it came together. We had hoped it would. St. Pius X is a very good team. There's no doubt about that. We lost to them in sectionals last year, so we knew it wasn't going to be a piece of cake."
Maryville never trailed in the match and took a 2-0 lead to the half on a pair of first half goals by sophomore forward Ashton Reuter.
With the lead reduced to 2-1, Reuter set up senior Alyssa Stiens for a goal in the 74th minute that solidified the outcome.
The decisive sequence began with a failed corner from goal-hungry St. Pius X that led to a numbers advantage at the other end.
Reuter got free up the sideline, dribbled in far enough to make St. Pius X goalkeeper Anna Lillig commit and dished off to an uncovered Stiens for the easy finish.
"I think it was a very beautiful one," said Oludaja. "That showed both the determination and also the willingness to just be selfless and play as a team. We had Ashton push the ball. That created an opening for Alyssa to finish. It was beautiful to see because we know St. Pius X has a very, very good goalie and there was no way around it."
All three of Maryville's goals were scored on plays in which Lillig was forced to come out of the net and meet Reuter.
On the second one, Lillig gambled on a long send from freshman Mollie Holtman and got there a half-second too late. Reuter put just enough of a touch on the ball to roll it into the net.
This was Reuter's eighth goal of the district tournament and gave Maryville a 2-0 lead in the 23rd minute.
Reuter opened the scoring in the 17th minute on another through ball from Naima Msechu that split the defenders and created a one-on-one.
Page 2 of 3 - "One of the things we talked about before is if we're taking shots from outside, we really don't have as much of a chance with the goalie as we would if we bring the ball up and then finish," said Oludaja. "All three goals were exactly like that. There was no long-range shots there. There was one in the second half that was very good, but you saw how she deflected it."
While the Hound attack slowed after Reuter's second goal, Maryville had no trouble protecting its two-goal lead for the final 17 minutes of the first half.
The Warriors, who returned only three upper-classmen off last year's team, applied minimal first half pressure, putting only one shot on frame. They also struggled to maintain possession, frequently kicking the ball to the other end without any teammates around.
"Our first half, we didn't play very good," said St. Pius X head coach Todd Ashby. "We didn't play with possession. We didn't play with a purpose. We were too nervous and didn't play our game at all. They came out fired up and ready to go. They played aggressive and offensively they took it to us. We just kind of panicked."
St. Pius X generated more of an attack during the early stages of the second half.
And one of its first few chances resulted in a deficit-trimming goal.
After a turnover in Maryville's end, St. Pius X junior forward Marguerite Plas rolled a shot past Hound keeper Shannon Johnson to make it 2-1 with 30:42 left.
It was Pias' third goal against Maryville in the last two years and would turn out to be the only one let in by Johnson.
The often-idle Hound keeper helped preserve Maryville's one-goal lead with clutch stops over the next 20 minutes.
She covered a through ball to Plas in the 60th minute and later a direct kick with traffic around her.
"She did very well today," said Oludaja. "I had a talk with her before the game and I'm glad she took that to heart. She was in the right place at the right time every minute of the day."
Lillig also stepped up her play in the second half, making two really nice saves on Holtman to keep it a one-goal game. The Warriors final chance for the equalizer came on a pair of corners in the 73rd minute.
The first was deflected out, giving the Warriors another crack.
The second attempt went through the goalie box untouched, and the Hounds regained possession.
A quick counter ensued involving Reuter and Stiens that put the match out of reach.
"We had everyone up there and we just didn't recover quick enough," said Ashby. "Normally we wouldn't do something like that, but you're down, it's the district championship. You're going to go home. If we were down 3-0, I might have had everybody up there."
Page 3 of 3 - With the district title and payback in hand, the Lady Hounds are now among 16 teams left in the Class 1 playoff picture.
Sectional opponent Pembroke Hill is only 7-9-1 but played a demanding regular season schedule.
A win over the Raiders would advance Maryville to its furthest point in the playoffs in school history.
"As long as we are healthy, I think we'll be ready for that," said Oludaja. "I told just them one game after the other."