BY ETHAN LILLARD
KEOKUK – Football players are known to get into a warrior-esque mindset when they step on the field.
Playing on a football field Thursday, Fort Madison’s girls soccer team adopted that warrior like mentality and played through wind and rain for a 2-1 victory over Southeast conference foe Keokuk on the Chiefs’ home field.
“We’ve played Keokuk 11 times since we started our program,” Fort Madison Head Coach Sebastian Seifert said. “We’ve only won one game. This is just our second win against them and on their home turf is even better. I’m happy with that.”
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The game began with gusty conditions at the 5 p.m. start time and halfway through the first half, rain added to the equation. That didn’t stop Fort Madison’s Brandy Walker.
Taking advantage of having the wind at their backs in the first half, the Bloodhounds kept the ball on the offensive side of the field for a majority of the first.
In the 19th minute, the Hounds offense got rolling when Braxtyn McGhghy found a crease in the Chief defense, placing the ball into an opening with space for Walker. Walker took possession of the ball and slipped past Keokuk’s defense for the first goal of the game.
“That’s one reason why we have her out there,” Seifert said. “She is tall and physical and can muscle her way through the defensive line. She rewarded that with two goals today.”
Walker put that same speed on display 10 minutes later when the Bloodhounds advanced the ball to the offense half of the field with a little help from the wind. Walker was the first to the loose ball and kept her momentum rolling all the way to the Chiefs’ front door for another goal, giving Fort Madison a 2-0 advantage. Walker was the only player to score in the first half, as both teams took a brief break from the conditions at halftime.
Coming back from the half,, Fort Madison and Keokuk flipped offensive sides of the field, as the Hounds were now facing the wind, giving the Chiefs the advantage.
Less than five minutes into the second half, the wind paid dividends for Keokuk, as Isabel Vandenberg sent a high flying shot over the head of Fort Madison keeper Josie Pumphrey.
Vandenberg’s goal was the only good fortune the Chiefs found on the day, as Fort Madison continued to dominate time of possession the rest of the second half, holding the Chiefs scoreless for 36 minutes for the 2-1 win.
“Getting the W is a good answer, but the way we played, I’m not satisfied,” Seifert said. “This field is a little more narrow than ours. I think they struggled with spacing, but we got the win and that’s what matters.”
Fort Madison moves to 5-3 on the season and sit at No. 2 in the Southeast conference. The Hounds are back at the friendly confines of Baxter Sport Complex Tuesday as they take on Fairfield.