Grain Valley must face a familiar foe if it wants to claim its third straight Class 3 District 13 boys soccer title.
With their 6-0 district semifinal win Monday night over the visiting Warrensburg Tigers, the Eagles (12-10) advanced to face Marshall for the district title at 6 p.m.Wednesday at Grain Valley. Marshall edged Columbia Battle 1-0 in Monday’s other semifinal at Grain Valley.
Grain Valley and Marshall played for the 2016 title, with the Eagles winning on penalty kicks. The teams also met earlier this season, with Grain Valley winning 1-0.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” said senior forward Brandon Speigle, who contributed two goals Monday. “We always have a good battle with Marshall, so it’ll be a good game and good test to see if we’ll be moving on, see what we can do and how good we are.”
The Eagles were good enough offensively during the first half Monday to lead 2-0 at halftime. Sophomore midfielder Jack Knust finished a crossing pass in the 37th minute for Grain Valley’s first goal.
“Nathan Racz took it down the line on the right side and he crossed it in,” Knust said. “And I just finished it.”
Logan Welle won a challenge in the 40th minute to give the Eagles their two-goal halftime lead.
Speigle scored his goals in the 56th and 59th minutes. Freshman Alexander Engram then scored back-to-back goals in the 69th minute to provide the final scoring touches on a half that Speigle, Knust and Eagles coach Tyler Nichol agreed went better than the first half.
“Our 9first touches were) a lot better,” Speigle said. “Our passes were better. We were talking each other up, instead of talking each other down. We just definitely played a lot harder the second half.”
That second-half effort helped secure the title rematch Wednesday with the Owls (16-8), who’ve won 10 of their last 12. As they eye their third straight District 13 championship, the Eagles are trying to avoid predicting who their next opponent might be or thinking about their potential next game, according to Nichol – lessons he said they’ve learned from the past two seasons.
“You just show up every day and try to survive for the next one,” Nichol said.