Five weeks ago, the Rockhurst soccer team adopted an offensive-minded philosophy. The Hawklets haven’t lost since.
The Kansas City Star
Rockhurst coach Chris Lawson doesn’t think that’s a coincidence. So after a scoreless first half against Lee’s Summit in a Missouri Class 3 sectional game Tuesday, Lawson reiterated that offensive philosophy to his players.
Robert Kelly took it to heart.
After collecting a pass from teammate Jordan Evans, Kelly broke a scoreless tie 6 minutes into the second half, the game-winning goal in the Hawklets’ 2-0 victory against visiting Lee’s Summit. Rockhurst will play Staley on Saturday with a trip to the Class 3 state tournament on the line.
“It was just a great feeling when we got that goal, because we had worked hard to get one,” Kelly said. “I saw (Evans) look up initially but then my lane was cut off. I re-did my run, and he found me. It was a great pass.”
It was set up by a play the Hawklets had practiced at length this week in its preparation for Lee’s Summit and its tall, acrobatic keeper, junior Roman Pena.
Evans took the ball out wide, drawing Pena to the near post. Evans flicked a pass across the box to a wide-open Kelly, who had no problems finishing off the chance.
Rockhurst sophomore Cole McLagan added the second score in the 77th minute. The Hawklets are one victory from reaching the state tournament for the 16th time in the past 20 seasons.
“Jordan executed exactly what we talked about,” Lawson said. “We knew to beat them, we would have to draw (Pena) out of the net.”
Lee’s Summit possessed the ball in larger chunks after Rockhurst’s initial score, but it failed to put chances on net.
The Tigers’ top opportunity came only 2 minutes into the game. On a counterattack, Blake Lines lofted a ball toward the goal from 30 yards out. Rockhurst keeper Richard Reed barely deflected the shot off the post.
“Our keeper made a big play that kept us in the game on that play,” Lawson said. “That could’ve really changed momentum.”
Liberty North 1 Smithville 0
As if the playoff implications weren’t encouragement enough, Liberty North went into Tuesday’s game against Smithville in Liberty looking to avenge a double overtime loss from Oct. 12.
Liberty North jumped out to an early lead and finished with its fifth straight shutout, defeating the Warriors 1-0 in the first round of the Missouri Class 2 state tournament. The Eagles improved to 24-4 with the victory.
“It’s euphoric,” senior goalie Nate Angle said. “I felt like our defense was on top of their game tonight. It was a good game. They played really well.”
Not only did they avenge the earlier loss, but the Eagles defeated the Warriors for the first time since the school opened in 2010.
“We’ve played them every year since we started Liberty North, and we’ve had some close games but they always beat us,” head coach Art Smith said. “We knew what we would get with them and we knew it wouldn’t be easy and they had some good players. But at the same time we knew if we focused and did some of the things we’ve been doing all year, we’d be able to come out and be OK.”
Senior forward Paul Sherwood gave the Eagles an early lead with a goal in the sixth minute of play. Although they came close with a handful of shots in the second half, that was all they needed.
That left it up to Angle, who had what his coach called one of his best performances of the season.
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