The Hannibal soccer team played the entire second half with the wind blowing into its face, but that didn’t stop senior Aaron White from picking up an assist and scoring a goal as Hannibal beat Moberly 2-1 Tuesday night.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” White said. “They are a conference rival and we always play these guys pretty close. We were happy we came out strong in the second half and got the job done.”
The opening 40 minutes of play had no rain or wind as Hannibal (15-5, 8-1 NCMC) and Moberly battled to a scoreless tie over the first half. But once the second half started, the rain and wind came as well.
“It was super hard,” White said. “We were playing with a huge disadvantage. I was happy our defense played as strong as they did because the wind was completely blowing.”
Clay Cunningham broke the scoreless tie when he gave Hannibal a 1-0 lead with 31:28 remaining in the second half. Cunningham scored after White used his head to pass the ball in towards the goal.
“It felt like after we got that first goal that the wind picked up like crazy,” Hill said. “We were fighting that as well because their goalie has a heck of a punt.”
With the wind now blowing heavily in its favor, Moberly tied the score a 1-1 on a corner kick with 21:36 left in the second half.
“They came back and got one that was a little bit aided by the wind I think,” Hill said. “The guy sent in a good ball. I don’t know that his intent was to score on the corner kick, but it was nice to see the guys keep their heads up and recover after they tied it.”
It didn’t take long for Hannibal to respond though as White put the Pirates ahead to stay at 18:45 when he beat several Spartan defenders and was able to slip an unassisted goal into the Moberly net.
“I was happy I finally put one in,” White said. “I had a couple of chances in the first half and I didn’t get it into the back of the net, but on that one I finally got it in and it felt really good.”
Hill had high praise for White and his game-winning goal.
“That was just hustle on Aaron’s part,” Hill said. “I wasn’t quite sure what the defender for them was doing there, but I think he was counting on their goalie to come out and win it and he (the goalie) was trying to shield Aaron, but Aaron is too quick of a player to rely on that. He just got around the guy and had a nice touch around the keeper and put it away.”
Moberly had several chances in the closing minutes to tie the game up. With the aid of the win, Spartan goal keeper Bridger Pretz booted the ball from his goalie box that had the distance to score, but was stopped by Hannibal’s defense. In the final seconds, Moberly again had a chance as the Spartans lined up for a free kick, but it sailed wide right to end the game.
“We were all on edge over here (during the free kick),” Hill said. “We knew what the wind had been doing and obviously with the time that was left he was going to put that shot on goal and hope Logan (Robinson) made a misplay or the wind would help them out. We had to wait it out. We knew that would either tie it up or we would have the game over.”
Hannibal goal keeper Logan Robinson had several key saves for the Pirates in the first half. Twice he deflected Moberly shots over the goal post and once he knocked the ball out to the left side of the field.
“He helped to keep us in it,” Hill said. “They had some opportunities and were going at the goal in the first 10 minutes and they had a few chances throughout the rest of the game, especially the one that Logan tipped over. It was a nice play.”
As for the Pirate offense, there were plenty of opportunities to score in the first half, but Hannibal kept coming up short.
“Honestly, I think that (Moberly) kind of outplayed us in the first 10 minutes of the first half,” Hill said. “Then we got things going and we had some great opportunities and their goalie just made a lot of great saves. We talked about it at halftime. If it wasn’t for some amazing saves he made, we probably would have had three (goals) at halftime.”
Hannibal will be back on the road tomorrow as the Pirates travel to Mexico to play the Bulldogs. Earlier this season Hannibal beat Mexico 4-2.