KIRKWOOD, Mo. – With St. Louis defenders focused on congesting the middle of the field Wednesday afternoon, Mallory Mathes served them a reminder of her dangerous striking ability.
The sophomore forward and Fredericktown High School graduate ripped two goals from the right wing to help the Mineral Area women’s soccer team notch another quality win.
The Cardinals appeared mostly sharp and organized after being idle for 11 days, and knocked off 11th-ranked St. Louis for the second time this season in a convincing 3-0 outcome.
Leah Buerck scored her team-high eighth goal of the season for insurance, and Theresa Butscher made six saves for her third shutout in six matches.
Mineral Area (5-1, 4-1) produced 11 of its 16 shots after intermission by continuing to apply offensive pressure, and dominated despite generating no corner kicks.
St. Louis (5-3, 3-2) struggled to crack a MAC formation featuring five midfielders, and would not directly test Butscher until she handled a long bending shot in the 33rd minute.
Cardinals left back Elisabeth Cosentino delivered two strong possession wins along the sideline during the opening moments, and soon notched the go-ahead assist.
Mathes received a diagonal ball from Cosentino about 40 yards ahead, and fired it past keeper Mia Kristensen on a full sprint for a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute.
The Archers looked to answer quickly, but a drive from Megan Barton missed wide by plenty, and a subsequent shot was blocked in front by Emma Winkler.
Mineral Area otherwise kept the box mostly clear in the vicinity of Butscher. Kadelia Wilkins hustled back to disrupt a potential shot on a rare turnover inside the back third.
Kayleigh Slinkard settled a clearing attempt on the left side for the Cardinals, and used her body to shield a defender before drawing an eventual foul. Her restart created the next scoring sequence.
Abby Holmes chased down the long free kick and looked to shoot after making a quick touch to the left in the 35th minute.
St. Louis partially deflected that drive right to Mathes, who calmly netted her second goal of the game and third of the season on an approximate 23-yard strike inside the opposite post.
Winkler neatly cleared from danger with an overhead volley to herself moments later, and Butscher caught a 20-yard free kick by Mia Lanemann to preserve the 2-0 advantage into halftime.
Contact was called tightly by the head referee, resulting in 29 combined fouls. Three yellow cards were doled out to the Cardinals overall, including a couple of questionable rulings.
Loren Kincaid was cautioned after Madelyn Barton took a spill and briefly stayed down prior to the second goal. MAC midfielder Ella Gant began to protest, but was ultimately calmed down by teammate Alexys Cook.
Gant was often surrounded by multiple defenders as her five-match goal streak concluded. She entered the contest tied with Buerck for the team lead at seven.
St. Louis opened the second half with 12 solid minutes of steady energy and a handful of scoring chances, but the best one was denied by Butscher on a 20-yard free kick by Madelyn Barton.
The remainder of the match belonged to the Cardinals, who worked their entire healthy roster into action before it concluded without relinquishing any momentum.
Buerck padded the lead with her eighth goal in the 66th minute on a rising drive that kissed the crossbar and landed past the line following a strong counter pass from Wilkins.
Cosentino got an unlucky bounce from the cage on her sinking chip from about 24 yards, and Cook narrowly missed on a rebound chance when a blocked pass also caromed off the crossbar.
Megan Barton sent two late strikes high and wide at the other end, and Butscher scooped a trickling shot from Sara Nishiyamma on a final run down the middle.
Holmes, who pressured the St. Louis back line into a turnover and sideline throw before the break, was shown yellow for a light collision behind the play with about 12 ½ minutes left.
St. Louis defender McKayla Giles was earlier carded for a foul from behind on MAC midfielder Emily Kellum, who was then shown yellow due to her verbal response.
Kristensen finished with six saves on nine shots faced for the Archers, highlighted by a nice lunging stop to her right after excellent passes from Mathes and Gant sprang Slinkard for a powerful run.
St. Louis was whistled for three separate handball violations in the second half, including one that Gant induced by intercepting and firing a turning shot just outside the penalty area.
The Cardinals remain tied with State Fair in the loss column for first place in the Region 16 standings, and will host the Roadrunners in a critical rematch next Wednesday at Engler Park.