HANNIBAL – It's not the position the Hannibal boys soccer team wanted to be in.
But there's no other choice if the Pirates are to at least share the North Central Missouri Conference crown.
Kirksville's Remerdie Ndiang scored a goal on a low shot that beat Hannibal keeper Parker Terrill in the second half, giving the Tigers a victory Tuesday night at Veterans Field. The victory gave Hannibal its second NCMC loss of the season, while Kirksville has one.
Hannibal must win out the remainder of the conference slate, and hope it gets some help from other NCMC teams.
“Kirksville has to get beat by someone and we have to win out,” Hannibal coach Eric Hill said. “We've put ourselves in a tough spot. But it's doable.”
The effort Hill saw Tuesday assured him it is.
Even though the Pirates couldn't find the back of the net and had just three shots, Hill was pleased with the effort.
“I thought we played well,” Hill said. “We just didn't finish our chances tonight.”
The best ones came after Ndiang's goal with 19 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in regulation. Hannibal responded by putting more pressuring in Kirksville's defensive third and began controlling play beyond midfield.
The best chance came with about eight minutes remaining when a loose ball in the box came toward forward Nathan DeStefane's feet, and the senior ripped a shot that went just wide left of the goal. The Pirates had three corner kicks after Ndiang's goal, but all were cleared away.
“Not that we weren't playing with all kinds of intensity, but I thought we played hard,” Hill said. “We pushed an extra number up to get it going, but when you're down late you have to push forward.”
Hannibal's offensive flow was hindered as senior Tristen Terrill left the game with more than 20 minutes left in the first half with an injury and didn't return. That allowed Kirksville to control the midfield throughout the majority of the game.
“That didn't help us any,” Hill said. “We don't have any other defensive midfields to sub.”
Parker Terrill made 12 saves to keep the Pirates in the game.