The rain cut loose with about 15 minutes left to play in Lee’s Summit North’s Class 4 girls soccer sectional Tuesday. The Broncos didn’t mind the torrents being blown by a stiff north wind – by then they were already close to washing away three years of misery.
This was the third straight time North faced St. Teresa’s Academy in the postseason, and the previous two meetings ended the year for the Broncos. Not this time. North came back from a goal down in the first half and overwhelmed the two-time defending state champion Stars 4-1 at Bronco Stadium.
North, 20-3, earned its first trip to the quarterfinals since 2012 and will face Park Hill, 16-7-2, at 2 p.m. Saturday at Park Hill South for its first state tournament berth since that same year. But as the rain continued Tuesday night, the Broncos celebrated finally getting past Kansas City’s longtime girls soccer power.
“Every year since I’ve been here they’ve knocked us out,” said North senior midfielder Keelie Fothergill, who scored two goals along with sophomore defender Kaylie Rock. “I thought it was our turn to get the win and go on to state this year.”
North’s season ended last year with a 3-1 loss to St. Teresa’s in sectionals. The year before, the Broncos fell in a heartbreaking 1-0 overtime result. When they last met back in April, St. Teresa’s won 2-0 on their home field.
But this was the match the Broncos had targeted since the season began.
“This is the round we haven’t been able to get by the past few years,” said North coach Ryan Kelley whose team also lost in the 2014 sectional round. “The girls really, really wanted to get that opportunity again they really wanted to get it against St. Teresa’s.”
North had to battle back for that opportunity after St. Teresa’s struck with under 15 minutes left in the first half. Stars forward Lily Farkas got a through ball to senior forward Tess Rellihan, who punched it past North goalkeeper Sarah Peters with a shot to the far post.
That would be the only ball to get past Peters, who was brilliant in the net. She finished with 13 saves, many of them off her fingertips on dangerous St. Teresa’s shots.
“I tell her every day that she’s my idol,” Fothergill said. “I love that girl. I don’t what we’d do without her.”
The first half was drawing to a close when Fothergill got the equalizer. Joanie Westcoat set her up with a header, and she got behind the defense and beat St. Teresa’s goalie Alexis Batliner one-on-one with a shot to the near post with 1:29 left before halftime.
“Getting that goal in the last minute of the half gave us a lot of excitement and momentum going into the (second) half,” Kelley said. “It was OK, we’ve got it back, it’s level and now and it’s just who is going to make the plays the last 40 minutes?”
Fothergill provided the answer 30 seconds into the half. She lofted a shot from the right side of the penalty box that rainbowed over Batliner and into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Rock made it 3-1 just five minutes later with her first goal. After taking a pass from Alexis Mitchell in the box, she made a cross that deflected off a Stars defender and into the goal. With less than eight minutes to goal, she sealed the victory with a shot to the far post on a one-on-one opportunity.
“It all went by so fast,” Rock said. “I thought, this is the perfect opportunity. I’ve got to take this. I have to seal the game away.”
And soon the rainy celebration would begin. A celebration three years in the making.
“This is such a great group of girls and the seniors have been in this position every single year,” Kelley said. “I’m just so happy for them to have that opportunity to go forward.”
SCA returns to state
Summit Christian Academy reached the Class 1 state tournament for a second straight season after beating St. Paul Lutheran 10-0 in a quarterfinal game at Concordia.
Kassi Ginther scored seven goals for SCA and tied the national career record with her 315th goal. Riley Painter scored two goals and the Eagles also got an own goal.
SCA, 23-3, will meet Fatima 6 p.m. Wednesday in the state semifinals at Swope Soccer Village. The Eagles finished third in last year’s Class 1 tournament.