It seems like no matter the situation, the Lee’s Summit North Broncos always seem to find a way to come up big in the postseason.
Even after having a bit of a down year, and losing almost their entire starting lineup from last season, the Broncos found a way to get it done when it mattered most.
North won its fifth straight district championship and fourth straight against Blue Springs South in the playoffs after a 2-1 win over the Jaguars Thursday in the Class 4 District 13 girls soccer final at Larry Stewart Memorial Stadium.
North (10-12) advances to face St. Teresa’s Academy in a Class 4 sectional playoff at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“The girls have really done a good job getting locked in for this time of the season,” North coach Ryan Kelley said. “This is probably the best we’ve played all season long. Everyone is elevating their game and it’s bringing the next person up.
“(St. Teresa’s Lilly Farkas) is probably the best player we’ve seen all year. When we played them early on, she was the focus. We have to find a way to stop her. That will be difficult to do. We’re going to give it our best shot.”
Added South coach Todd Findley: “Lee’s Summit North and Coach Kelley seem to get better and better and more disciplined this time of year.”
Like the Broncos did in their 6-2 semifinal victory against Blue Springs, they scored two first-half goals as the offense won the possession battle in the first half. They outshot the Jaguars 10-5 in the first half (6-4 on goal) and looked fluid with their ball movement.
Madelyn Robinson nearly scored two goals early in the first half, but South goalkeeper Alaina Werremeyer made a diving stop on one close-range shot and another shot just went over the crossbar.
The Broncos finally broke through in the 34th minute when junior forward Kaylie Rock, who had been giving South’s back line fits all night, had her shot deflect off the foot of South defender Mady Geren and it went underneath the diving Werremeyer for a 1-0 lead.
“She’s tall, she’s got long arms and legs,” Kelley said. “She turns her feet over really well. She closes in on the ball so fast, it throws the defenders off a lot.”
Added Rock: “We had the same energy that we did in the last game. We came off really strong.”
About two minutes later, sophomore Karly Dwyer took a shot at the top of the 18-yard box. The ball slowly bounced a few times and somehow got past a diving Werremeyer and inside the left post for North’s second goal.
Findley said he was shocked that the shot went in.
“I couldn't tell if it got deflected or if Alaina was shot shielded. But (North) has been scoring a lot of goals recently,” he said.
South improved in the time of possession category in the second half but couldn’t score two goals to tie it. The Jaguars got their only goal in the 47th minute. Senior Ashton Warren had her shot blocked by North goalkeeper Madison Baker, but senior Taylor Gardner flew in and put it the rebound to make it 2-1.
South had a few more chances to score, but Baker made some some leaping saves on shots from Brie Severns and Kiara Schaefer. Baker also challenged Gardner during a one-on-one breakaway attempt and stuffed her path to the goal.
“(Baker) didn’t have to do a whole lot, but there were two to three times where she had to make a big save,” Kelley said. “She stopped a bomb from going inside the left post. She read it perfectly.
“She was confident coming off her line and clearing the ball. And being secure on shots coming in. She had a really good game.”
North came into the game with the game plan to shut down South’s leading scorer, Severns, and did just that.
“We watched her Tuesday when they played Fort Osage, and she scored their only goal. We just wanted to keep an eye on her,” Rock said.
Even with injuries to key players and losing a majority of its starting players from last year, Findley said his team worked hard to put together a winning season and end with a 13-10 record.
“After North scored the first two goals, our girls could have gave up,” Findley said. “But our senior leadership and their pride and honor made it interesting. It’s easy to be disappointed, but I am proud of the effort.
“We weren’t supposed to be 13-10 this year. We lost two of our midfielders, and Molly Voigt got hurt in our fourth game, Taylor (Gardner) missed the start of the season and Hannah Maupin missed most of the season, so we weren’t supposed to do this well. We are a tight group and they stayed positive all year. It made it a memorable season.”