Lee’s Summit’s Bud Hertzog Stadium can be a tough venue for any visiting soccer team, and Raymore-Peculiar knows this as well as anyone.
Ray-Pec and Lee’s Summit are longtime Suburban Gold Conference rivals, and matches between the two can get fierce and the Tigers’ fans can make it a pretty unfriendly environment for the visitors.
All of which made Tuesday night, when Ray-Pec survived a tough Lee’s Summit squad and a slew of yellow and red cards for a 3-1 victory, all the sweeter for the Panthers.
“They’re one of our rivals, so we take it pretty seriously every time,” Ray-Pec senior forward Shawn McDonald said. “We’re out to get each other, so were excited to be here on their home turf. We were looking for the ‘dub’ and we got it.”
Ray-Pec got it with rugged defensive play that kept Lee’s Summit’s attack in check for most of the first half. And when the Panthers had the ball, they were able to quickly set up and take advantage of opportunities around the goal.
Ray-Pec also had to overcome the sometimes chippy play on both sides, which resulted in a total of four yellow cards for both teams and two red cards on the Panthers that gave Lee’s Summit a two-man advantage over the match’s final four minutes.
“The boys were very riled up for this game,” first-year Ray-Pec head coach Kevin Goodman said. “They trained hard and it was a game we were looking at winning.
“We put together a tactical layout that everybody was comfortable with and we knew how to beat them.”
Counterattacks were a part of that strategy, and Ray-Pec used one midway through the first half for its first goal. McDonald sprinted into the 18-yard box for a shot that bounced off the crossbar in front of the goal, and Andrew Burdick found himself in the right position to collect the rebound and shoot it in.
“The attack was one of our better nights,” McDonald said. “That’s’ what we’ve been working on in practice all week. We could have worked on possession a little more, that was our main weakness. But I feel like our overall attack was pretty good compared to what we’d been doing.”
Ray-Pec put Lee’s Summit on its heels three minutes into the second half when McDonald scored off an assist from Justin Rewald, who charged the goal and pushed the ball back to set up McDonald for a one-timer.
Lee’s Summit picked up its intensity in the second half, and the Tigers finally got on the board when Keenan Johnson buried a shot past Ray-Pec goalie Grant Hutchings into the middle of the net with 15 minutes left. Bailey Oelberg banged a shot off the crossbar three minutes later, and Keenan just missed getting another goal with five minutes left.
But Ray-Pec put it away with another counterattack goal from Corey Prince, who rolled the ball into an empty net after Tigers’ goalie Braden Weeks was drawn off his line.
“It was just one of those things where we didn’t get the job done,” Lee’s Summit coach Dave Wiebenga said. “There’s not much else to say. We were pretty poor in all areas of the game.”
Prince drew a red card shortly after scoring the final goal, getting his second yellow card of the match for reacting to some taunting from the Lee’s Summit crowd. Scott Clark also got red-carded shortly later, but Lee’s Summit didn’t have enough time to capitalize on the two-man advantage.
It didn’t dampen the celebration for Ray-Pec, which improved to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the conference after its third straight win. Lee’s Summit, which beat Ray-Pec 4-3 Aug. 21 in the season opener for both teams, fell to 4-1 overall and in the conference.
“There’s some personal vendettas on both sides I think, but at the end of the day, we played a really good team and the guys were up for the challenge,” Goodman said. “They were ready for it.”