For 37 minutes, nearly the entirety of the first half, things were going according to the two-part plan in St. Teresa’s Academy’s 4-1 win at Lee’s Summit West in a Missouri Class 3 state quarterfinals game on Saturday.
By ZACH SPAIN
Special to The Star
Pressure the Titans’ defense? Check.
Contain senior forward and Nebraska signee Jaycie Johnson? So far, so good.
Problem was, despite controlling possession and stretching the underclassmen-laden LS West back line with forward runs, passes into the penalty area, and eight corner and free kicks, LS West keeper Savannah McCoun was aggressive and her defense responded with opportune blocks and timely clears.
And with less than 3 minutes left before halftime, it seemed the Titans might enter the second half unscathed. And perhaps the Titans could could hold on until Johnson — whose 66 goals included the overtime game-winner in the sectional four days earlier — would get loose.
“Your game plan has to be to stop Jaycie Johnson,” St. Teresa’s coach Jeremy McElduff said. “We knew going in that she’s going to get shots, she’s going to get opportunities, she going to get past people.”
But before that happened, the Stars finally broke through.
Midfielder Elizabeth Luallin dribbled into the box, spinning and weaving by two defenders, before finding Savannah Trujillo onside and uncovered with a short pass toward the penalty spot. Trujillo sent a soft, controlled strike along the ground, out of McCoun’s reach and into the back corner of the net.
“We wanted to make a statement (before halftime),” said Trujillo, a Missouri commitment who scored again midway through the second half to put St. Teresa’s ahead 3-1. “We knew going into the half that if it was 0-0, they’d come out stronger.”
Early in the second, Johnson and the Titans, 23-3-2, earned more of the possession, but St. Teresa’s, 17-2, made it 2-0 with Cristina DeZeeuw’s header off of a corner from Danni Gray 10 minutes in.
When Johnson did get a chance 3 minutes later, the Titans were able to make it 2-1. Johnson maneuvered the ball into the box and fired a rising shot from 15 yards that St. Teresa’s keeper Janie Thompson couldn’t handle, leaving the rebound for Megan McFarland to finish.
But the scoring opportunities were too few and the pressure too much for Lee’s Summit West, which started seven freshmen and sophomores.
“We’ve got Jaycie, but we’ve got a really young team,” Titans coach Todd Krey said. “I am hoping the experience we gained will help us out down the road.”
Down the road for the Stars, on the other hand, is Friday when St. Teresa’s will play St. Louis St. Joseph’s at Blue Springs South in the semifinals.