Lee’s Summit soccer coach Dave Wiebenga huddled his team together shortly after its season came to a crashing halt. Amid the bitterness and disappointment, he had one last message for the Tigers.
“This needs to drive us into 2018,” Wiebenga said. “We need to be thinking about this moment and how it felt.”
Lee’s Summit will have a long time to think about how its season came to an end with a 2-1 loss at Sedalia Smith-Cotton during a Class 4 sectional game on a chilly Halloween night.
The thoughts won’t be pleasant after the Tigers (13-9) outplayed Smith-Cotton in many areas, but ultimately came up short thanks to a pair of critical mistakes.
The first came in the 24th minute, when a poor clearance on a free kick led to Smith-Cotton’s first goal from Eduardo Alonso. He gathered a pass inside the box from Alex Esquivel, got past a Lee’s Summit defender and put the ball into the lower right corner of the net.
With 30 minutes remaining, another poor clearance led to a goal by Esquivel, who worked his way around a defender before striking the ball home.
“Sedalia is a team that’s going to make you pay for chances that you give them,” Wiebenga said. “We gave them maybe four chances overall and they converted two. Other than that, we controlled the game.”
Lee’s Summit controlled most of the first-half possession and outshot Smith-Cotton 14-8 for the game.
Keenan Johnson brought Lee’s Summit back within one with a goal during the final 10 minutes, but the rally didn’t produce another goal despite near constant pressure on Smith-Cotton’s goal down the stretch.
“We, overall as a team, played well (Tuesday) night, but the objective of the game of soccer is to score one more goal than your opponent,” Wiebenga said, “and we just didn’t do that.”
Smith-Cotton (26-1) moves on to the state quarterfinals and a showdown against Springfield Kickapoo.
Lee’s Summit is left to look back on a season that saw the Tigers win their fourth district title and third Suburban Gold Conference crown in five years.
Wiebenga will have most of this team back next fall, including the entire defense.
It’s a comforting thought, but he doesn’t want his players to find any comfort with how it all came to an end.
“This needs to sting,” Wiebenga said. “This needs to sting for the next nine months until we get back at it again.”