Even after a three-goal loss, Raymore-Peculiar’s girls soccer team left Lee’s Summit North Tuesday night feeling pretty good about itself.
Ray-Pec lost to North 4-1in a Suburban Gold Conference match at Bronco Stadium, but Ray-Pec coach Mike Williams and the Panthers saw plenty to like in a match that stayed close for most of the first half. The Panthers got a quick equalizer after giving up an early goal, they came close to converting several breakaways and they even swatted away a penalty kick.
“I thought we competed today,” Williams said. “I know the score doesn’t show that. We played a lot better as at team.”
Ray-Pec lost to Lee’s Summit North 4-0 on April 10, and it looked like it would be another long night for the Panthers when the Broncos’ Kaylie Rock rebounded her own header off a corner kick into the net just over two minutes into the game.
But the Panthers needed only four minutes to respond. Senior forward Raegan Edwards intercepted a ball in the backfield on a counterattack and fired a shot that slipped off the fingers of North goalkeeper Sarah Peters.
“We counterattacked on them quick and it happened for us,” Edwards said. “Once we get the ball back we try to get up as quick as we can before all their defense is back so we can get in on them.”
North controlled most of the play, but Ray-Pec still managed counterattacks that kept the Broncos on their heels. Morgan Houston almost put the Panthers ahead midway through the first half on a breakaway but pushed her shot right. She got free for another one-on-one opportunity later in the half that ended with Peters making a diving save.
“We tried to put more pressure on their center backs to see if they could handle the ball in the back because that’s where we’ve been most successful,” Williams said. “It actually paid off for us tonight.
“If Houston puts two of those away where she’s got the goal open … we’re back in the game.”
North regained the lead with a goal by Gianna Palmentere with 22 minutes left in the first half, and the Broncos made it 3-1 just over five minutes in to the second half with a booming shot by Alexis Mitchell from outside the 18-yard box. Mitchell added another goal with 10 minutes left.
But Ray-Pec still had some highlights in the second half. Panthers goalie Cassie Kruse, who replaced starter Samantha Curphey after the first half, made a leaping save to knock away a penalty kick by North’s Keelie Fothergill with 14 minutes left.
“Kruse made a great stop,” Mitchell said. “She jumped over there and got a hold of it. That’s a girl who has never played soccer her entire life getting a save against a girl who can put the ball away.”
Mitchell saw it as another sign of growth for the Panthers, who stood 6-9-1 overall and 1-7 in the conference after the loss. Another sign they were becoming more of a team.
The players apparently feel that way, too.
“It (stinks) to lose, but we feel pretty good about at least playing as a team and figuring some stuff out,” Edwards said.