Hannibal coach Eric Hill believes his senior forward, Bri Johnson, lives for the spotlight.
“She was huge,” Hill said. “I think she likes that moment. It is nice to have somebody that is like that. She wants to be the one to get the game-winning goals or assist in those high-pressure moments and she performed really well, especially in the last 15 minutes of the game there.”
If she does, she couldn’t have come up any bigger for the Lady Pirates Monday night as Hannibal rallied to beat Kirksville 3-1 behind late rally led by Johnson.
“I guess I had a good day today,” Johnson said. “That first goal helped my confidence a lot. Then just sending those cross is, I am just thankful that Makenzie (Morris) and Raylynn (Charlton) were able to get in on the end of them and they both got their goals tonight.”
With Hannibal trailing 1-0 and time running out, the Lady Pirates were beginning to face the reality of having their North Central Missouri Conference win streak snapped.
But Johnson wasn’t ready to give up and the senior powered the ball past the Kirksville goalkeeper with 13:14 left in the game for an unassisted game-tying goal.
“Coach (Hill) told us at halfitme, get one and they will crack,” Johnson said. “It worked. Once we got that one goal, I think our momentum went up and their heads went down and it just helped us a lot.”
Hill made sure his team knew not to give up.
“The whole time we were fighting to get that one goal,” Hill said. “We knew that we had to get it tied up. ... That calmed us down and got things opened up and it also forced Kirksville to have to come out a little more.”
Johnson didn’t stop there though. In fact, she and the rest of her teammates were just getting warmed up.
“I think that we showed that we wanted this one more,” Johnson said. “We are after that conference title again this year and we knew this game was on the line. This game could determine if we win conference or not. (Kirksville) has improved so much this year and we knew we had to step up and be better.”
With 4:52 left in regulation, Johnson sent a cross to Makenzie Morris that the sophomore put in the back of the net to break the 1-1 tie.
“It’s a long game,” Kirksville coach Shawn Meintz said. “I think when Hannibal came back and got that first one, once they get the momentum rolling their way, it is hard for, it puts the ball in their court and they took it and ran with it.”
Now leading, Johnson was not yet done tormenting Kirksville. This time Johnson sent a cross to Raylynn Charlton to give the Lady Pirates their third goal in a span of just over 12 minutes.
As hot as the Lady Pirates finished, it took some time for their offense to develop against Kirksville’s defense.
“They had a lot of possessions in our end,” Meintz said. “We did a good job of holding them out and keeping them out of the goal and playing good defense.”
Kirksville took a 1-0 lead into the break, thanks to a goal from senior Kallie Holt.
“She is a fantastic player,” Meintz said. “She is really physical, really gets after it, wins things, and sometimes scores in ways that I don’t even believe all the time.”
With 28:01 left in the first half, Holt took a pass from Emily Schwend that got past Lady Pirate goalkeeper Kaitlyn Edge.
“We got our goal on the breakaway,” Meintz said. “That worked for us and we really needed to get a second one, but we were never really able to do that.”
After the game, Johnson complimented her opponents.
“(Holt) has always been very strong for them,” Johnson said. “All around, their midfield to forwards, they have really improved, they move the ball around a lot more.”
Kirksville’s goal came just 84 seconds after Hannibal lost two of its starting players, Morris and Lauren Wheelan, to a collision.
“We were really doing things well,” Hill said. “We had that letdown when Frog, we call (Wheelan) Frog, Lauren Wheelan and Makenzie took each other out. When Lauren goes out, it changes a whole lot for us as she controls the midfield so well. We were over dealing with injuries ... we put in someone that doesn’t normally play center-mid because we had to replace two midfielders right away and so we had to grab somebody and go with it. I don’t even think (the goal) was that person’s fault that the goal happened. It just threw things off in the middle field.”
Meintz wasn’t sure the lost Hannibal starters had an effect on his team scoring.
“Their players were both forward players,” Meintz said. “It may not have had too much bearing on it. I think we did a good job on that goal of getting the breakaway and finishing our chance.”
Both players would eventually return to the game. Morris returned in the first half while Wheelan made her way back onto the field in the second half.
“That was huge that we were able to get the both back in,” Hill said. “Makenzie went in a little quicker and Frog had to get re-evaluated and wait for that baseball to shrink down to a golf ball on her cheek. It looked nasty, but she is tough. If she didn’t have that big thing sticking out on her, I don’t think she would have ever acted like anything was wrong and we probably won’t have even known she was hurt, because she wouldn’t have let on. So, it was nice to get them both back in there.”
Hannibal had several other opportunities to score, but had a hard time coming up with anything against Kirksville’s defense.
Kirksville’s defense and the Lady Pirates’ shortcomings might not have turned coach Hill’s hair gray, but he sure lost some hair over it.
“I pulled my hair out a little bit, Hill said of the early missed opportunities. “A couple of them were those things that if we were a step faster or moved a foot this way or that way, we would have got goals. It is some of those little things that we just weren’t getting together and we talked about it at halftime. ... We left a few goals out there tonight, but Kirksville played really well.”
Hill wasn’t the only one worried. His team also fretted.
“I think watching the clock count down and us not getting a goal really worried all of us,” Johnson said. “But, I think that pushes us like it pushes me. I get angry and hungry for a goal.”
The win snapped a five-game winless funk for the Lady Pirates, but also kept the team undefeated in NCMC play.
“The conference thing is most important,” Hill said. “But, definitely, if we didn’t string together that end of the game like that, to kind of keep that going that we had over the weekend, I don’t know what it would have done to their psyche. I think that the girls’ spirits are definitely up now. We needed to get a win and we needed to come out and score some goals because we just weren’t scoring either. ... Getting a win was big and hopefully it will help us get some momentum going forward.”
Hannibal had 22 shots during the game as opposed to just six for Kirksville. The Lady Pirates also had three-times as many corner kicks, Six to two, as Kirksville totaled.
Kirksville’s goalkeeper, Sarah Lamp, had 19 saves on the night while Edge had five for the Lady Pirates.
With the win, Hannibal completes the home and away season sweep of Kirksville. The Lady Pirates improve to 8-5-1 on the season and 7-0 in the NCMC. Kirksville falls to 9-4-1 overall with the loss.
The Lady Pirates will be back in action Thursday evening when they host Boonville at the Veterans Field Sports Complex. Game time for JV is set for 5 p.m. with varsity to follow.
In junior varsity action, Hannibal beat Kirksville 5-0. The JV Lady Pirates led 3-0 at the half. Lucy Roisum scored twice while Aundria Sheard and Alyssa Riefesel scored once. Bailey Welch scored a goal and recorded an assist.

Moberly Tourney
Hannibal played two games on Saturday at the Moberly Tournament and lost them both.
The Lady Pirates were shutout for just the second time this season when Winfield beat Hannibal 1-0 in the morning game. Then, in the afternoon, Hannibal fell 5-1 to Camdenton. The Lady Pirates lone goal on Saturday came from Johnson and was unassisted.
The two losses ran the Lady Pirates winless streak to five. Hannibal lost two, tied with Fort Osage on Friday before losing two more on Saturday. The Lady Pirates scored just five goals during the skid. However, one of the goals was an own-goal scored by Fort Osage for the Lady Pirates. Three of the losses were by one goal. Only the Camdenton loss was by multiple goals.