Kyle Rock knew if he kept on shooting, he’d eventually break through.
Rock, a junior midfielder for the Lee’s Summit North soccer team, took advantage of a bouncing ball near the top of the Blue Springs box Wednesday and blasted a shot into the back of the goal.
Rock’s score midway through the first half on his fourth shot of the game marked all the offense the Broncos would need as they took a 1-0 home win.
“It was more of being in the right place at the right time,” Rock said. “It was bouncing around and I said, ‘Why not,’ and it paid off. We had enough chances that we knew sooner or later, if we keep the pedal on these guys, one is going to go in. Sure enough it happened. Unfortunately we couldn’t get more.”
North (14-5, 9-2 Suburban Big Seven) kept possession for the majority of the match, outshot the Wildcats 15-3 and its defense only yielded one scoring chance inside the box.
“I was really pleased with a lot of our effort, especially on the defensive side of the ball,” Broncos coach Ryan Kelley said. “That’s something we’ve put an emphasis on the last couple of weeks. We were a little unlucky around the goal tonight. Their keeper had some excellent saves, they cleared some balls off the line and they did an excellent job of protecting their goal and making it difficult on us. But I was pleased with how we reacted. It didn’t rattle them as they kept on getting shots off, creating chances and being aggressive and that’s what we want them to do.”
North captain and defender Zane Daugherty noted the Broncos defense put an emphasis on stopping speedy Wildcats forward Valentin Mpanga.
“He played a good game against us last time and we tried to watch him as much as we could this game and try to hold him down,” Daugherty said. “It was a hard-fought game. I felt we possessed the ball a little more, but Blue Springs is a good team and was a good challenge.”
Wildcats goalkeeper Jacob Williams made eight saves, several of which were diving one-handed stops, to keep his team within a shot away from tying the contest.
“Man, (Williams) was on tonight,” Wildcats coach Michael Palermo said. “He made some great saves and kept us in the game. When you play teams like North you need a little help from the post and some help from your keeper. Jacob gave us a lot of help tonight and our back four played really well.”
The win continued a stretch of strong play for the Broncos, who have won five out of their last six, as they enter tonight’s non-conference home match against Rockhurst.
“It’s really exciting seeing how much progress we’ve made since the beginning of the season,” Rock said. “This is the heart of our schedule where we’re seeing what we’re made of. We have a big test (against Rockhurst) to see what we can do against the top teams.”
Kelley said this is the right time of year for his team to start peaking.
“We’re playing real well,” he said. “It was a nice win last week against Lee’s Summit and an exciting win against Lee’s Summit West Monday in penalty kicks. The boys are playing with a lot of confidence and we have just under two weeks before we hit districts, so it’s a good time to be playing your best soccer.”
For Blue Springs (0-17, 0-11), the match continued a season of great efforts that just came up short on the scoreboard.
“All we’ve asked our guys this year is to go out and compete,” Palermo said. “That’s twice this year we’ve played North – who’s a great team and a well-coached team – within a goal (a 3-2 loss in the first meeting). They dominated possession and shots on goal, but for us to create a couple of opportunities, to stay in the game and battle all the way to the end, that says a lot about our guys.”