The Clayton team bus got caught in traffic and arrived a few minutes late for the soccer game against Ladue at the Rams new West Campus field Tuesday.
No matter, the Lady Greyhounds exploded off the bus, scoring the first goal of the game just 30 seconds into the contest. The Hounds kept up the pressure with two second half goals and cruised to a 3-0 Suburban East win. For all intents, that hands the conference title to Clayton.
Clayton squared its record at 5-5, but more important, 4-0 in conference play. Ladue slipped below .500, falling to 8-9 and 3-1 in conference play.
Junior midfielder Christina DiFelice knew the importance of that first goal. The goal was scored by senior Clair Laufketter and assisted by DiFelice. “We wanted to keep the pressure up, right from the first of the game. Our plan was to attack (Ladue) early. It sure helps to score right away. That can change the attitude of the team right away,” said DiFelice.
With 13 minutes left in the game, and the Hounds clinging to a 1-0 lead, DiFelice found he back of the net with a rocket shot past Ladue’s second half goal keeper Jessica Parker.
She termed that an important goal en-route to the victory.
DiFelice looked at the game with rival Ladue as just another game on their busy schedule.
“We don’t look at a game with Ladue any different than our other opponents,” she said.
Clayton’s final goal came with 7:10 left in the game. Caroline Avery, a sophomore defender lifted a high shot over Parker for the third and final score.
It wasn’t as if Ladue didn’t have their chances.
In the first half, reserve goal keeper Katie Marvel, senior (third keeper this season) came out to challenge a Ladue rush. Marvel fell to her knees, and Morgan Moore, junior forward found herself open in front of an unguarded net. She fired a shot, two feet wide of the right post.
Clayton coach Paul Hoelscher was proud of his girls. They were able to defend their conference championship for the second year.
“Obviously, we got off to a good start. That helped. Ladue came back and played a very good game in the second half of the first half. We were playing a little high and we really settled down in the second half. We needed to stay calm,” he said.
“I’m very proud of the shutout,” he said. He gave a nod to his reserve keeper Marvel who stopped several strong Ladue shots.
Clayton has two more weeks in the regular season. They have upcoming games with Parkway North, Webster Groves and MICDS. “We’re in a very difficult district. We play all private schools--Westminster, MICDS and Villa Duchesne,” he said.
The shutout of the Rams and a conference victory probably eased a lot of the pain of riding home in rush hour traffic back home.