Lee’s Summit West hadn’t played in overtime during all of the regular season, let alone contended with penalty kicks to win a game.
Now the Titans are old pros in extra time.
LS West needed penalty kicks for the second straight match to keep their state championship dreams alive after battling Eureka to a 2-2 draw after 110 back-and-forth minutes of soccer on Friday night. And once again the Titans came through, winning a penalty kick shootout 4-3 for a spot in the Class 4 girls soccer state final at Swope Soccer Village.
Lee’s Summit West (23-1) will face Suburban Gold Conference rival Park Hill in Saturday's championship game. Park Hill also needed extra time for a 1-0 victory over Jackson in the other semifinal on Friday.
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LS West wouldn’t have been here had it not won on penalty kicks at Columbia Rock Bridge on May 26 in the quarterfinals. As harrowing as that was, Titans coach Shaun Owens said that experience ultimately proved beneficial.
“That helped us prepare,” said Owens who put his team through extra PK practice during the week. “I’m glad that happened last week, because it really helped solidify the five who were going to take PKs.”
LS West needed goals from four of them — Kassidy Newsom, Grace Heenan, Kara Privitera and Makayla Martin — and another spectacular save from goalkeeper Tori Hunter to win the round. Hunter made a diving stop on Eureka’s third shooter.
Martin put West’s fourth shot into the upper right corner of the net, and Eureka’s next shooter sent her shot over the crossbar.
“Same as last week,” said Hunter, who made six saves during regulation and overtime. “That helped a lot, and we practiced a lot last week, too, knowing this would be a possibility. That helped me get used to it and not freak out as much.”
It seemed a strong possibility after LS West and Eureka traded goals during regulation. Eureka scored first in the 15th minute on a goal by Audrey Brown off a pass from Samantha Courtios. LS West equalized less than 2 minutes later when Grace Heenan dribbled through traffic for a shot right in front of the goal.
Taylor Reid put West up 2-1 when she rifled a shot to the far post through a crowded penalty area in the 54th minute, and Eureka responded again a minute later when Jordan Thompson deflected in a corner kick.
“It doesn’t matter if we get scored on; it’s almost like it wakes them up,” Owens said. “We started off slow, our possession was lacking, and as soon as they scored that goal we went back to what we knew.”
West had numerous opportunities to avoid the PKs with a flurry of shots in the first overtime as the Titans turned up the pressure. It appeared over when Heenan drove into the box and dished off to Privitera for a point-blank shot — only to have Eureka goalie Megan Moll make a smothering save.
And other 15 scoreless minutes later, LS West found itself in a suddenly familiar situation. And now the Titans find themselves in the state championship match for the first time since 2006.
“We’re excited,” Owens said. “No matter who we play, we’re just excited to have the opportunity to win state.”
Park Hill 1, Jackson 0 (OT)
Alyssa Ramos found the far post, and Park Hill found itself in the title game.
Ramos took a pass from Alison Walls shortly after a free kick 4 minutes into the first overtime and ended a stalemate of a match. Ramos said she was just in the right spot when Walls got her the ball.
“Ali passed it to me, and I just shot it in,” Ramos said. “It was just crazy.”
Both teams had many chances to score, and both teams had goalies making big saves. Walls, who made six shots, saw two of her batted away before Ramos struck the game-winner.
“It was not our best game by any means but good teams find a way to win,” Walls said. “Thanks to Alyssa, we got that.”
And Park Hill (21-3) got another chance to play Lee’s Summit West, which beat the Trojans twice during the regular season. This is Park Hill’s first title game.