Lee’s Summit West punched its ticket to the Class 4 state tournament with a strong start and a strong finish.
The Titans got an early goal in the second minute and a second in 71st minute after about an hour of a lightning delay to secure the program’s third semifinal appearance, beating Rock Bridge 2-0 Saturday at Titans Stadium.
The victory put West, 18-5, in the state semifinals for the first time since 2006. And there, the Titans will face a familiar foe in Lee’s Summit North at 2 p.m. Friday at Swope Soccer Village.
“We’re each familiar with each,” said West head coach Shaun Owens. “I respect North, and Coach Kelley has done a great job with his team. We’re very excited to play them in the semifinals.”
The Broncos won both previous match-ups with 2-1 and 2-0 results.
Most of the Titans’ good scoring chances came through winger Jillian Leetch, including both goals.
“She’s played a phenomenal season,” Owens said of the Titans’ team captain. “When she wants to, she’s a dominant player on the left side, and a handful for any defender. We’re just so happy to have her on our team.”
The Titans earned a corner kick in the second minute, and they converted on their first chance of the game. Leetch whipped the corner from the right side to the near post, where Kara Privitera headed the ball between Rock Bridge goalkeeper Eryn Puett and a defender inside the right post.
“Our goal was to get a goal in the first five minutes,” Owens said. “That kind of dictated how we were going to play. We worked on that set piece all week. It actually worked on a corner. From there our confidence just grew.”
“Perfect header in the corner right there,” Leetch said. “It was great.”
Firing off eight shots in the first half, the Titans kept putting the pressure on, getting five shots on target. But the Titans couldn’t break through again until Leetch made it 2-0 in the 71st minute, just 28 seconds after play resumed from the storm delay. The Titans failed to score on a free kick right out of the break, but West won the ball back and Leetch sent a shot from around the left corner of the penalty area into the upper 90 on the far post past backup keeper Abby Green.
“When we were in the rain delay—defense, defense, defense,” Leetch said. “That goal just happened to happen, but our main goal in the second part was just defense.
“I just tried to go above her, and it happened to work.”
After dominating most of the first half, the game opened up in the second with Rock Bridge chasing a goal. But defensive midfielder Grace Heenan and the back line kept Rock Bridge, 17-4, from creating many quality opportunities.
“Our defense has been tremendous all year,” Owens said. “They just go unnoticed, but they play very simple. They are very organized. They’ve just had a tremendous season.”
Tori Hunter picked up three fairly comfortable saves to preserve the team’s 13th shutout of the year.
One of the Bruins’ best chances game in the 67th minute when Natalie Peng received the ball behind the defense, but her shot went straight to Hunter.
Twice the Titans earned a free kick inside the arc. Leetch sent one to the lower corner in the 14th minute, which Puett saved; Heenan hit hers high in the 53rd minute after Privitera cut through three defenders.
Leetch almost doubled West’s lead in the fourth minute, forcing a diving save from Puett after driving down the left side. A shot she fired off in the 48th minute got deflected by Green and hit the post.
What Leetch wasn’t able to do before the storm delay, she did in the 71st minute.