Although the Mehlville and Oakville senior high school girls’ soccer teams already have logged seven games this year, many players believe the true start of the 2007 season occurred last week when the two teams squared off and Oakville prevailed.
The two schools met March 29 for their annual rivalry match with both teams holding on to dreams of a Suburban West Conference championship.
Oakville (2-0, 1-0 Suburban West) battled Mehlville (1-4, 0-2 Suburban West) to a 0-0 tie at halftime. But with just six minutes to play, the Tigers jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by junior midfielder Megan Wingenbach.
“The play started on a nice serve by Jasmina (Suljic), who took it into the corner and served it up to Megan Wingenbach, who then ran onto it,” Oakville head coach Dave Robben told the Call. “It was a real nice goal.”
Wingenbach’s game-winning goal was her first of the season and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Tigers.
“It always feels good to beat a conference team,” Wingenbach said. “I think we played pretty good and connected a lot of passes tonight. This is the game that really means the start of our season.”
The Tigers finished the game in the final minutes of play when Emma Kriegel converted a penalty kick to give Oakville a 2-0 win over Mehlville.
The senior midfielder knew that the Panthers were going to give Oakville its toughest game so far this season.
“We knew coming out that they (Mehlville) were going to take it hard on us because we’re rivals,” Kriegel said. “We started out kind of slow and in the second half we picked it up and really started moving the ball around.”
“Mehlville gave us a good game,” Robben said. “I was pleased with the way we played overall and I thought we saw some good stuff out there.”
The loss for Mehlville extended a three-game losing streak for the Panthers after a 2-1 defeat at home to Seckman and a 1-0 loss at home to Fox earlier in the week.
Despite the loss, Mehlville head coach Scott Jackson hopes that the game against Oakville was a turning point for his team.
“The kids came out and battled and once they realized that it was 0-0 at halftime and we had almost put one in right before the half, they were really pumped up,” Jackson said. “There’s never a good loss, but this might make our season right here.”
The Mehlville girls return to action at 6 p.m. Wednesday when the Panthers travel to Lindbergh for another important conference match.
“With Lindbergh, we always have good games because that’s another tough rivalry game,” Jackson said. “Coach (Mark) Giesing and I go a long way back and I know it’s going to be another rough and tough match for us. That’s going to be a big game for us.”
The Tigers return to action at 4:15 p.m. today — April 5 — when they play host to Parkway Central in a non-conference game.