In less than three minutes, Fort Osage went from playing top-seeded Liberty on even terms to a state of near-desperation.
The visiting top-seeded Blue Jays snapped a 1-1 tie midway through the 48th minute, then made it 3-1 in the 51st on their way to a 4-1 victory over the host Indians in the Class 3 District 15 final.
Despite the late pull-away, Fort Osage coach Andrew Fletcher said he felt good about the his team’s effort that capped a 15-7 season.
“I can’t be more proud of them,” Fletcher said. The third goal kind of took the wind out. To see two goals real quick was tough.
“It’s been a fun four years with these guys. Two conference titles, district runner-ups ... we won lots of games.”
It was a fun start for Fort Osage, as goalkeeper Matt Summey saved Liberty’s short-range header in the fifth minute and Pier Cassiraghi’s free kick goal from 25 yards out gave the Indians a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute.
The Liberty foul set Cassiraghi off to the right of the 18-yard arc, and he bent his shot around the wall and inside the post.
The Blue Jays (12-11) tied it in the 28th when Daniel Bass sent a corner ball into the box, Garrison Midkiff got an initial header and Aaron Bass finally headed in the equalizer.
The bounces continued to go against Fort Osage in the second half. Blue Jay Charlie Raasch’s shot off a corner kick hit the crossbar but settled right back to him, and he knocked in the tiebreaking goal with 32:32 remaining.
“We were just unlucky tonight, but that’s why you play the games,” said Cassiraghi, who along with Summey and Richmond Forbis, the school’s career goal record holder, were part of the Indians' 11-member senior class.
Liberty executed a nifty double-header to make it 3-1, as Raasch sent Midkiff’s free kick right to Bass, who put in his second goal.
Bass nearly had a hat trick in the 65th, when his rebound shot off Summey’s initial save caromed off the left post, but T.J. Stansbury booted home that rebound for the game’s final score.
Summey had five saves in goal, while Liberty counterpart Logan Galvin had eight. Fort Osage got off more shots (20-15), and each team put nine on goal, but Liberty produced more quality chances and earned all four of the game’s corner kicks.
“We possessed, but we didn’t pass the ball enough, I thought,” said Fort Osage forward Hayden Baumgartner, who suffered a probable broken nose early in the second half thanks to an inadvertent collision with Forbis’ heavily casted left hand, but returned after several minutes sporting plugged nostrils. “[After] that third goal, and the second goal, we kind of got down on ourselves.”
“We knew they had some good players, and we knew we had to play good defense,” Fletcher said. “You could say Liberty was the better team and deserved to win.”