Kassi Ginther spent the final game of her illustrious Summit Christian Academy career surrounded by physical St. Vincent defenders and rarely seeing the ball.
That was a bad combination for Summit Christian, which relied on Ginther and its high-scoring offense to create almost all of its victories during the season. She scored one goal early on, but St. Vincent would get the next two while stonewalling Ginther and claim a 2-1 victory in the Missouri Class 1 girls soccer final Thursday at Swope Soccer Village.
Ginther scored her goal early, set up by fellow forward Faith Fields from the top of the 18-yard box for a straight-on shot in the fifth minute. It was her 123rd goal of the season, and the national career record she set with a hat trick against Fatima in the semifinals May 31 will stand at 319.
The chances would come few and far between afterward.
“There were at least two on me all the time,” Ginther said. “The girls were talking about me and they were like, ‘We can’t let her have the ball.’”
St. Vincent, 20-5-1, equalized quickly when Kalli Seabaugh took a ball that floated into the box and lobbed it over Summit Christian goalkeeper Makenna McGraw. Seabaugh, St. Vincent’s second-leading scorer with 17 goals, almost scored again minutes later when she banged a point-blank shot off the crossbar.
Summit Christian, meanwhile, struggled to clear the ball out of its half of the field against St. Vincent’s physical defenders and find Ginther downfield.
“They definitely knew who she was,” Summit Christian coach Amber Siemsen said. “They were ready for her. All the girls worked hard to try to get her the ball and she worked hard to try to come back too. It just didn’t fall the right way.”
Ginther and Summit Christian created more chances early in the second half, including a free kick from the top of the arc that sailed over the cross bar. But the Eagles couldn’t finish, and St. Vincent got the go-ahead goal on a header by Lauren Carron off a corner kick in the 62nd minute.
Ginther did get one good chance to equalize in the closing minute off a free kick that landed at her feet near the right post, but St. Vincent goalie Courtney Brewer swatted away the shot with a diving save.
“Whenever she has the ball at her feet I always think she can do it,” Siemsen said. “That was close. It was a little nerve-racking.”
Ginther made Summit Christian’s semifinal match against Fatima less nerve-racking with her first-half hat trick.
Maya Cofield opened the scoring in the first minute, and Ginther knocked in the next three goals. She put in a one-timer from the left of the box, turned and fired on a ball from Riley Painter and added another on a counterattack. Those goals put Ginther over the previous career record of 315, which she had tied in the quarterfinals.
“I was so excited,” said Ginther, a senior forward. “To be able to break that record is an honor and I hope I can do more tomorrow, too.”
By halftime, Summit Christian led 4-0 and had outshot Fatima 12-0. And the Eagles, who had outscored the opposition 33-3 in three postseason games, were well on their way to another win. An own goal six minutes into the second half completed the scoring.
Summit Christian, 24-4, finished one victory shy of the first team championship in the school’s history. Ginther found some consolation in getting to play for a state championship before heading off this fall to Iowa State.
“I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life,” Ginther said. “I was really blessed and honored to play for SCA.”