Both Truman and Blue Springs boys soccer teams tried to stifle more-talented opponents with defensive-heavy approaches, but neither could pull an upset in Wednesday’s Class 3 District 14 semifinals at Truman High School.
Lee’s Summit North scored very early and very late to down the host Patriots 2-0 in the first semi, while Lee’s Summit pulled away after a scoreless first half for a 3-0 win over Blue Springs.
North (18-3-1) will face its crosstown Suburban Big Six rival into today’s 6 p.m. final at Truman, while the Patriots bowed out at 5-17 after putting up a consistently scrappy effort in their back end.
Already a defensive-minded team, the Patriots consistently had four or five players in the back row in an attempt to ward off the Broncos’ threats. Midfielder Matthew Rosebrough admirably shadowed dangerous striker Cody Hoffman, and though the Broncos got off 28 shots, only 15 were on goal and Alex Villa snatched 12 saves.
“It’s hard for anybody to play that disciplined for 80 minutes much less 15-, 16-, 17-year-olds,” Truman coach Jared Byrne said. “Not only individually, but you have to trust your teammates in that instance.”
The problem was that North had a 1-0 lead in the third minute. Villa snared a corner kick and tried to drop-kick ahead but mishit into the waiting Theodore Gifford, who knocked a 40-yard floater over the suddenly out-of-position Villa for a goal.
“I got it off the tip of my toe, and went short,” Villa said. “I should’ve waited a little. I tried to rush it and get an advantage.”
The Patriots stayed within a goal thanks to Villa’s save off a Hoffman penalty kick in the 13th minute and Jesus Menjivar’s blocked shot later in the first half. In the second half Villa stopped a Parker Moon one-timer off a corner kick and made another diving save against Hoffman.
North coach Tim Richardson said his team struggled against the Patriots’ pack-it-in approach, though the Broncos did anticipate it.
“Give credit to their coach, and the goalie played well,” he said. “Our crosses weren’t good; we were missing players in the box. I think what set the tempo was missing the penalty kick. It gives them a ray of hope.”
But Truman couldn’t generate equalizing opportunities. Parker Johnson only had to make two saves, one of them a long free kick by Villa in the waning seconds of the first half, and the Patriots had no corner kicks.
“As I told the kids, you’re going to have a few chances, whether it’s a set piece or something,” Byrne said. “We had ’em; we just couldn’t take advantage of them.”
The Broncos’ Hunter Pickering booted home a 15-yarder with 54 seconds remaining off a ball into the box, but that diminish how the Patriots thought about their performance.
“We knew we just had to get into (Hoffman’s) head and pack it in the whole game,” Villa said. “Honestly, it’s probably one of the best games we’ve played all season. It’s a good way to go out.”
LEE'S SUMMIT 3, BLUE SPRINGS 0: Blue Springs (7-13) fell victim to a Lee’s Summit (13-6) attack that pressed throughout the game and broke through after halftime. The Tigers earned 14 corner kicks, and all but two of their 10 shots were on goal.
Two saves by goalkeeper Josh Hubner and two headers blocked by his Wildcat teammates kept game scoreless in the first half, but early in the second half Lee’s Summit earned a penalty kick off a straightahead ball into the box. Hubner had no chance to stop Dalton Souder’s top-corner kick 4:03 into the half.
Hubner stopped Souder’s close-range attempt after he came free on a touch pass in the 52nd minute, but in the 56th Souder headed in an Aaron LaPaz corner kick. Parker Gates tapped in a crossing pass with 10 minutes remaining to complete the scoring.
“We knew we were playing a team that’s at a higher level,” Blue Springs coach Mike Palermo said. “The plan was to pack it in, frustrate them a little and get to 0-0 at halftime.”
All four of the Wildcats’ shots came after halftime and went on goal, but Roman Pena was up to the task and pitched a shutout.
“The penalty kick was the difference,” Palermo said. “That was a little disappointing. Lots of chippy play going on, and you hate to see that. At 1-0 we knew it would be difficult to come back.
“I’m just proud of my team.”