When Nixa sophomore Shalynn Thomas was visibly upset about a missed opportunity against Glendale on Thursday, her coach’s calming words made sure she wouldn’t miss the next one.
After Thomas and junior teammate Payton DeHart failed to connect on a scoring chance midway through the second half, it was Nixa coach Evan Palmer’s words that got Thomas refocused.
Less than 10 minutes later, Thomas took a pass from DeHart but this time didn’t miss what was ultimately the game-winner as the Eagles took a historic 2-1 victory over Glendale for the Class 3 District 11 title.
“Coach told me to keep my head up and stay positive and that I would have another chance,” Thomas said.
“That helped me. I was frustrated that I missed and I felt like I let my teammates down.
“But the fact that they were all still behind me helped me go back out and play as hard as a could.”
It was the first win ever for the Nixa girls program over Glendale. The Eagles were 0-13-1 head-to-head against Glendale coming in.
“Glendale has a great program and they’ve been the standard bearer in girls soccer in this area that we all want to reach,” Palmer said.
“Now that we’ve gotten here, we’ve got to try to sustain it like they’ve done over the years.”
Nixa (21-3) will host today’s District 12 winner (between Kickapoo and Central) in the sectional round at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Glendale (17-5) scored the game’s first goal with just under six minutes left in the first half when senior Drianna Raff headed home a rebound off the crossbar, just before colliding with Nixa goalkeeper Lexy Stagner, for a 1-0 lead.
With less than a minute left in the first half, DeHart scored to tie the game at 1-all, off a pass sent in by sophomore Alyson Galler.
“That goal, at that time, fueled everyone up and it made us all believe that we could do this,” DeHart said.
The equalizer found the back of the net with 32 seconds left in the first half.
“That was such a momentum-shifter,” Palmer said. “But that’s what this team does: they don’t get down, they just keep fighting.
“This team has been down so many times this year and to come back and win this is unbelievable.”
With 12 minutes left in a tie game, Glendale took a corner kick that ricocheted off nearly every player in the box before Nixa was able to clear the ball out.
“The ball was ping-ponging around in front of the goal and somehow we cleared it,” Palmer said.
“Lindsey Frerichs headed the ball off the line and Taylor Stamper took one for the team right in the stomach and saved it.
“It was a huge play for us, because if the goal goes in there, the game is totally different.”
Thomas, who had recently missed seven games due to a left knee injury, scored the go-ahead goal with 9:56 left in the game with her left foot.
“I was a little nervous to take the shot with my left foot, but I knew that was the only shot that I had,” Thomas said.
“The defender fell in front of me, but I kept my footing and it went in about mid-post on the left side.
It was a great feeling.”