When it comes to conference play, there is one word that comes to mind when thinking of the Lee’s Summit North girls soccer team – dominance.
That is exactly what the Broncos displayed Thursday night, dominating the possession of the ball from start to finish in a 4-1 victory at Blue Springs South Thursday, spoiling the Jaguars’ Senior Night in the process.
“They have a fantastic team and have superstar athletes,” South coach Todd Findley said. “They hadn’t given up a goal in conference until today. They have skill all over the field, at every position. They really put pressure your defense.”
The Broncos helped improve their record to 6-4-2 overall and 5-0 in the Suburban Big Six by keeping the ball on South’s side of the field the majority of the game. They held a 16-7 advantage in shots attempted, with a 11-5 edge in shots on goal.
“We practice a lot on offense and playing together,” Broncos senior Hannah Bomar said. “We’re a lot more offensive-minded this year. We are always trying to attack the goal.”
For most of the first half, North threw a bevy of counter-attacks at the home team, with one resulting in its first goal of the night when Keelie Fothergill gathered the ball on the left side of the penalty box and sent a rocket inside the upper left corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead just seven minutes into the game.
The Broncos’ pressure continued in the latter part of the first half when a kick from the right side of the penalty box got deflected by a Jaguar into their own goal, giving North a 2-0 lead with 18:23 remaining in the half.
The Jaguars (5-3, 3-2) didn’t get their first attempt at North’s goal until the 13-minute mark when a shot went wide right. Their second shot of the game yielded a much better result when Nina Stine sent in a corner kick which managed to cross directly in the middle of the goalmouth where Brooke Herald tapped it past North goalkeeper Bailey Doerflinger to narrow the gap to 2-1 in the 24th minute.
“That was a little bit of a scrappy goal there,” Findley said. “It wasn't the prettiest thing ever, but a goal is a goal.”
Doerflinger (five saves) exacted revenge, however, in the second half. With the Jaguars attempting to swing momentum their way, the senior goalie made a diving stop with 20:30 left in the game.
“That was huge,” North coach Ryan Kelley said. “She’s done that several times for us this year. She didn’t catch that one clean, but she knocked it down right in front of her where she was able to grab it right away.”
From that point, Bomar took over. South committed a foul on its side of the field, giving the road team a direct free kick. Bomar capitalized when teammate Alexis Mitchell ran up to fake the kick while she came in a few feet behind her and roped a 20-footer inside the left goal post, making it 3-1 with about 14 minutes left.
“In practice, Alexis will either take the shot or fake it and I will kick it with my left foot,” Bomar said. “It's a distraction play, and it worked this time.”
About six minutes later, she struck again, this time lobbing a kick from 25 yards out which hit bottom part of the crossbar and bounced out of the reach of freshman Megan Swanson, who had a busy day with eight saves, just past the goal line for the score.
“It was really nice for her to get a couple of goals tonight because she hasn't had many opportunities,” Kelley said. “The free kick she had, we’ve worked on but haven't had many chances for it. That was the first time she was able to get an opportunity at one and she took advantage.”
The win put North in firm control of the conference, but Kelley knows there still is a lot of work to do to capture a Suburban Big Six crown.
“It’s good to get off to that start, but there is a long way to go,” Kelley said. “Blue Springs South is a good team, and when we play them again, it’s going to be a dog fight. Liberty has a good team, too. By no means is the conference race over.”