It was a matter of a few inches that led to a single goal, but that small amount turned into a world of difference in Wednesday’s Blue Springs-Blue Springs South soccer matchup.
With the Wildcats and the host Jaguars seemingly destined for a 1-1 halftime score at South’s Larry Stewart Memorial Stadium, South’s Ryan Poertner let loose with somersault throw-in that rainbowed neatly to the goal mouth, where Bryce Childers positioned himself inside the goalie and another Blue Springs defender to head in the tiebreaking goal just seconds before halftime.
It was Childers’ second goal of the game, and South carried that momentum through halftime and poured on three goals, including a tap-in by Childers for a hat trick in the second half to post a 5-1 Suburban Big Six victory over its struggling intra-city rival.
“Ryan’s magical throw-in, and I just got above a couple of their defenders,” the lanky junior midfielder said. “I just happened to be there at the right time.”
Childers could take some credit for that goal, but his last one in the 75th certainly was of the right-place-right-time variety, as the Wildcats’ last line of defense whiffed on Tyler Waisner’s shot from the left wing and the trailing Childers was trailing at the goal line.
Still, it exemplified the approach of the Jaguars (5-2, 2-0 conference), who kept the Wildcats (3-6, 1-3) on their heels throughout the second half even after going up by two goals a few minutes after halftime.
“Anytime you can score late in the half, or early in half, it affects the mindset,” South coach Jon Grice said. “We’re trying to build that style, and it’s taking time. We’re trying to be more attack-minded.”
Childers’ first goal came less than five minutes in, a 12-yard grounder after sophomore Sam Derksen got a pass to him in the middle.
Blue Springs knotted the game in the 23rd when Kai Miller found some space between defenders atop the 18-yard box after a Trey Ziggenbein assist. The Wildcats continued to hold much of the next 12 minutes, but South was regaining control going into halftime and Blue Springs goalie Josh Hubner had to make a couple saves even before Childers’ head-in goal.
“It was just a matter of trying to play our game,” Grice said. “We coughed up the ball a lot, and when you do that they’re dangerous. They can get it over your back line.
“We settled down and started to string together possessions, and we emphasized that at halftime.”
Three minutes into the second half, South’s Sam Leech got taken down inside the 18-yard box, giving Kyle Findley a penalty kick that he tucked inside the left post for a 3-1 lead.
Jacob Gowan converted a Blue Springs turnover into a goal in the 57th to make it 4-1, as the Jaguars got off 16 shots. Nick Shafer made four saves in goal.
Blue Springs coach Mike Palermo admitted his team never recovered from Childers’ header.
“Then the penalty kick to start the second half, and BAM – it’s just two goals that quickly and frustration sets in,” he said. “Then individuals try to get it back, and that doesn’t work.”
“We’re struggling right now. We’re not playing together and playing as a team, and credit to South, they played well. Right now, we have a bunch of individuals, and it’s not working.”
Hubner made five saves for the Wildcats, who tallied seven shots.
South’s junior varsity was a 3-0 winner.