Only two boxes remain to be checked off on Lee’s Summit West’s list of goals for the girls soccer season. The Titans feel fortunate to get a chance to check them off.
West (22-1) will play today against Eureka in the Class 4 state tournament at Swope Soccer Village, and this second straight trip to the final four came close to not happening.
Had West not survived a penalty-kick shootout at Columbia Rock Bridge the quarterfinals May 26, the Titans’ outstanding season would have come to a disappointing end.
Nerve-wracking as that match was, West coach Shaun Owens also thought it was beneficial for the Titans. Save for their loss to St. Teresa’s Academy and a 1-0 nail-biter against Park Hill, the Titans had never really faced any crunch-time challenges this season, let alone having a match go to PKs.
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“I thought it was a great opportunity because we had to fight a little longer,” Owens said. “They pushed them all the way to the end and they were able to maintain their composure and pull one out.”
Rock Bridge scored the first goal with 14 minutes left in the second half on a header off a corner kick. West, which created numerous scoring opportunities throughout the match, couldn’t get the equalizer until sophomore midfielder Taylor Reid put in a shot off the right post with three minutes left in regulation.
“We were that close to going home,” Owens said.
Two scoreless overtime periods followed, and then the Titans won the penalty kick shootout 4-3, with Carsyn Overin knocking in the winning PK. Goalie Tori Hunter made two saves and converted a penalty kick for the Titans.
“You’re always a little bit nervous,” Owens said. “But I still felt like we had several chances and I thought we would get the (equalizing) goal. As time wound down it looked like we’d have less of a chance of tying it up. But our girls kept fighting.”
Owens hopes to take that fight to Eureka, the defending champions after beating Lee’s Summit North 2-1 in last year’s Class 4 final. Eureka (19-5-1), much like West, doesn’t have one dominating scorer: forwards Audrey Brown and Blythe Beldner have a team-high 11 goals apiece for the Wildcats.
“I know they play with a lot of speed and a lot of pressure,” Owens said. “They’re going to be very athletic and very fast.”
Senior midfielder Kassidy Newsom leads West with 20 goals and 10 assists, but senior forward Kara Privitera is right behind her with 14 goals. Freshman midfielder Madison Staples has seven goals while Reid and junior forward Lauren Street have six each.
This is mostly the same group that got West to state last season for the first time since 2006. But this trip is still a little different. There’s no city rivalry match in the semifinal, which North won 2-0 to reach the championship match. West finished tied for third after a 2-2 draw against St. Joseph’s Academy in the consolation match.
Owens believes this team is better prepared than last year’s and will benefit from the extra experience. So will knowing that they can survive a nail-biter.
“I think they’re prepared,” Owens said. “Whatever happens, happens. I think they’re ready.”