By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News
KEOKUK ? Mary West and Mellanie Vargas returned to action on Monday evening after being sidelined due to concussion protocol, and ironically that created plenty of headaches for the Keokuk Chiefs. West had a hat trick and Vargas picked up an assist as the Mt. Pleasant girls? soccer team handed Keokuk just their second Southeast Conference loss this season.
The game was a stalemate until 16:30 remaining in the first half when West broke the scoreless tie. She took a through ball from Kaela Welcher and knocked it in to make it 1-0 Panthers.
West picked up her second goal just five minutes later, this time off a pass from Vargas. She beat the keeper to the far post and it was 2-0 Mt. Pleasant.
With five minutes left in the half, the Panthers earned a penalty kick and West had the shot at a first-half hat trick. She scored on a ball that deflected off the keeper and Mt. Pleasant held a three-goal lead. Keokuk?s McKenna Tackles responded two minutes later with a goal of her own, however, and the Panther lead was 3-1 at halftime.
The second half was a defensive struggle but Keokuk did make the Panthers sweat when Tackles knocked in her second goal, scoring with eight minutes remaining.
Ayden Ross had seven saves on the night and the Panther defense was able to cling on to their one-goal lead, winning the game for Mt. Pleasant.
The junior varsity Panthers won 1-0 with the lone goal coming from Welcher.
The varsity team is now 6-3 overall and 4-2 in conference play. As it stands now, four teams are tied with just two losses in the conference. Mt. Pleasant, Keokuk, Fairfield and Ft. Madison all control their own destiny for at least a portion of the SEC title.
Mt. Pleasant could take a big step towards the SEC crown with a win in their next game on Thursday, May 3. The Panthers will take on Ft. Madison in a home game at 4:30 p.m. The Bloodhounds took the previous meeting 2-1.