Every high school soccer team sets a goal of going to state, even youthful ones like Lee’s Summit West. On Tuesday, the Titans made that goal look more realistic.
West overcame a scoreless first half with a flurry of goals early in the second half and beat Nixa 4-0 in a Class 4 sectional game at Nixa. The victory advanced the Titans to the quarterfinals and a game against Columbia Rock Bridge at noon Saturday at Titans Stadium.
West, 17-5, is in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2013. A win Saturday would put the Titans in their first final four since 2006, when they shared the Class 1 title with Visitation Academy after a four-overtime scoreless tie in the final.
“Honestly, I believe we have the talent to compete at state and so do the girls,” West coach Shaun Owens said. “We set some goals at the beginning of the year, and we have two of those goals that are still left.”
West has gotten this far even with only six seniors on its roster and an underclassmen-dominated starting 11. Against Nixa, which was playing for a fourth-straight quarterfinal appearance, the Titans looked like the more experienced team.
West pelted Nixa with 38 shots, but the Titans couldn’t get a ball past Nixa goalkeeper Riley McClintock in the first 40 minutes. McClintock, a freshman, was credited with a whopping 22 saves.
“They had a very good goalie,” Owens said. “That kept the score down. It could have easily been more than four goals.”
West finally broke through two minutes into the second half when Jillian Leetch beat a Nixa defender and launched a shot from 30 yards out over McClintock’s head for the first of her two goals. Less than 10 minutes later, Taylor Reid made it 2-0 by heading in a rebound inside the box.
Mia Bates scored the third goal with an assist from Kara Privitera, and Leetch closed the scoring in the final two minutes. That finished off a shutout for West goalie Tori Hunter, who only faced two shots thanks to a tight Titans’ defense.
“I felt like we were probably the more technical team,” Owens said. “When you can play one- or two-touch, it really increases your speed. That was probably our strength and their weakness.”
Owens hopes to see more of the same Saturday against 17-3 Rock Bridge, which he described as a big and physical team.
“It should be a very evenly matched game,” Owens said. “But the girls are all playing well. They’re jelling together and we hope to continue toward our goal.”