CARL JUNCTION — The Neosho Wildcats started their season 0-6 and that stretch was marked by single-goal losses against Carthage (2-1), Springfield Central (3-2), and Cedar Hill Northwest (2-1 on penalty kicks).

CARL JUNCTION — The Neosho Wildcats started their season 0-6 and that stretch was marked by single-goal losses against Carthage (2-1), Springfield Central (3-2), and Cedar Hill Northwest (2-1 on penalty kicks).
On Wednesday night, facing a familiar foe both district and now conference, the Wildcats came through with their first win of the season, defeating Carl Junction 2-1 at Bulldog Stadium.
In recent seasons, Carl Junction has given Neosho fits — for example, last season, Neosho lost three times against Carl Junction, 4-3 at Lions Field, 2-1 on penalty kicks in the Joplin Tournament, and then 2-1 for the district championship at Bulldog Stadium.
Two seasons ago, Carl Junction beat Neosho twice — 2-1 on penalty kicks in Carl Junction and then 3-1 in the district semifinals at Bulldog Stadium.
Neosho ended a five-match losing streak against Carl Junction.
Persistence against Carl Junction goalkeeper Sam Repsher paid off for the Wildcats, as super substitute Bryan Perez earned a tie score around the 36th minute. The head official had just been discussing with Perez and Carl Junction’s Will Bebee about their trash-talking. On the subsequent free kick by Hunter Gilliam, Perez capitalized on a Bebee misplay and headed one past Repsher.
In the 55th minute, Neosho closed out the scoring on a Matias Ruiz goal off a pass by Perez.
Hank Selig, who faced his first shot by Carl Junction only 20 seconds into the match, and the Wildcats held the Bulldogs scoreless after Carl Junction took a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute.
Like last season, it’s very possible the Wildcats and the Bulldogs will play each other three times, with a district championship once again at stake.
Neosho, 1-6 overall and 1-2 Central Ozark Conference Large, returned to action Thursday night against Republic, playing back-to-back conference matches on consecutive nights.