From the moment Blue Valley Northwest forward Kara Priest left a Maize defender off balance with a move that produced the Huskies’ first goal Saturday, the Kansas Class 6A girls soccer championship took a familiar turn.
Priest, a senior, showcased the skills she will take to UMKC in the fall, adding two second-half goals in a 3 1/2-minute span for a hat trick that lifted BV Northwest to a 6-0 victory at Hummer Sports Park.
BV Northwest (18-2-1) won its second consecutive Class 6A title and its third in four years with the latest in a series of dominant state tournament performances against Maize. The Huskies posted 7-0 and 5-0 semifinal victories against Maize en route to their 2011 and 2013 championships.
“I think that first goal really just opened us up and calmed us all down,” said Priest, who broke a scoreless tie with a left-footed shot past Maize goalkeeper Marissa Allen in the 24th minute. “When it’s 0-0, we kind of get panicky. But once we get a goal or two in, we really calm down and just play our game.”
BV Northwest, which defeated Topeka Washburn Rural in Friday’s semifinals, didn’t need much offense once Priest got started. The Huskies locked down on Maize sophomore Katie McClure, who had scored three goals in a 4-2 semifinal victory over Shawnee Mission West.
Maize (19-2) didn’t attempt a shot in the first half. Early in the second, McClure turned and rifled the Eagles’ first attempt, but defender Haley Sutter was right in front of her to block it.
“We didn’t want her to turn and run at us because we knew that wasn’t a good situation,” Huskies defender Linda Fiorito said. “We man-marked her and shut her down completely so that we could play our game.”
Maize’s defense was equally effective for the majority of the first half. But the Huskies, who passed the ball crisply from the start, eventually started to get attackers in space by splitting creases in Maize’s back line.
“Their movement off the ball is ridiculous,” Maize defender Hadley Davis said. “They’re a fast team, and our speed of play wasn’t up to par. They kind of had one up on us from the get-go with their speed.”
BV Northwest led 2-0 at halftime after Cierra Bryant’s 35-yard blast went through Allen’s hands and caromed off the left post into the net. Maize tried to establish itself as the aggressor early in the second half, but Priest used assists from Katie Sullivan and Fiorito to achieve her hat trick by the 50th minute. Laura Reeder and Sullivan completed BV Northwest’s scoring.
“I think today we just really knew that this was the state championship and this is what we’ve worked for the whole season,” Priest said.
SM West takes third
Emily Franchett’s hustle left her sprawled on the turf and in pain next to Topeka Washburn Rural goalkeeper Sarah Fritz late in the first half of the third-place game.
But just before the players collided, Shawnee Mission West’s senior midfielder beat Fritz to the ball and got her reward, scoring the game’s only goal to give the Vikings a 1-0 victory.
“I was going to score that goal one way or another,” Franchette said. “If it took me throwing my body into it, I was going to get it.”
Other than Rachel Krueger’s second-half shot that bounced off the crossbar for SM West, both defenses limited quality scoring chances. Vikings junior Alyssa Gregory had three saves to earn the shutout.
“The legs are tired, and they’re not doing exactly what they want as quickly as they want them to,” SM West coach Sarah Gonzalez said. “It’s all about mental toughness, and I think both teams showed that.
“We were just fortunate to put one away.”