Becoming the Class 4 Missouri state girls soccer champion is simple. Win five games in a row, and the trophy is yours.
Lee’s Summit North took a big step toward that objective Saturday in the quarterfinal round against Suburban Gold Conference rival Park Hill. The Broncos moved within two wins of that objective and into the state tournament for the first time since 2012 with a 1-0 victory at Park Hill South.
North, 21-3, got the only goal it needed when sophomore Halle Hill deflected the ball into the net off a corner kick from senior Alexis Mitchell with 32 minutes and 6 seconds left in the second half. Mitchell’s kick slipped through the hands of Trojan goalkeeper Kelbey Emmerson as North senior Gianna Palmentere blocked out the Park Hill defender. That allowed Hill to maneuver her way through the crowd to tap the ball into the goal.
“Alexis has a great corner kick so I knew I was going to get it,” said Hill. “I saw the ball slip through the goalie’s gloves onto one of their defenders and I just came in and tapped in with my right foot.”
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The goal off the corner kick was no surprise to North coach Ryan Kelley.
“We actually worked on corners yesterday a little bit,” said Kelley. “Hopefully that was in their mind going into that. The girls did a good job of just finding a way to make the play and be in the right spots.”
Just moments earlier, Kaylie Rock appeared to have the first goal of the game, but a controversial offside decision nullified the goal.
“That was a tough play,” said Kelley. “The ball got cleared and Kaylie didn’t have enough time to take a couple steps back and it just happens. But we were able to just keep going after that and tried not to allow us to affect us that much.”
In the end, it was the relentless Bronco defense, with goalie Sarah Peters getting the clean sheet for her 11th shutout, that stymied the Trojans’ attack.
“Lilli (Davis) did a good job on the back line of keeping a close eye on walls and trying to break them up,” said Kelley. “Our girls did an excellent job, especially in the second half of absorbing the counterattacks. The back line all season long has come up big and every time we put them up against really good talented players they have responded every time.”
The win was North’s third this season against Park Hill, the last one also a 1-0 decision. Next up will be another familiar foe: Lee’s Summit West. West topped Columbia Rock Bridge 2-0 in another quarterfinal, setting up a meeting between the crosstown rivals in the state semifinals 2 p.m. Friday at Swope Soccer Village.
The Titans lost both conference matches to the Broncos, but the only game that will matter this year is who will advance to the state championship.
“It has been an awesome experience to go through this with these ladies,” Kelley said. “(I’m happy) for them to have the opportunity go get to the final four and play for a state title that leaves a legacy in the program for people to try and rise up to.”