The Grain Valley girls soccer team is starting to prove that it is a force to be reckoned with.
On Friday, the Class 3 Eagles improved to 9-0-1 after a 1-0 victory over Lee’s Summit North, last year’s Class 4 state runner-up, on an unseasonably cold afternoon.
“We knew we were going to have to take it to the next level for these next stretch of games, which are pretty tough,” Grain Valley coach Tyler Nichol said. “(The Broncos) are a state power and they are always quality.”
Grain Valley recorded its sixth shutout of the season and it has yet to allow more than one goal in a game. The Eagles' defense, led by goalkeeper Raegan Beeding, shut down the Bronco offense despite facing 10 shot attempts, including six on goal.
“I think we did really good in the second half, working as a team,” said Beeding, who had six saves, all in the second half. “And we were just being very compact and composed. With all the crosses that (the Broncos) make, they can make some shots from far away. We just had to take that under consideration.”
Nichol credited the strong defensive effort to being well organized and having good communication.
“We have an experienced group back there,” Nichol said. “But it just comes down to being strong and being leaders on the field – and having each other’s back. I thought the defense was great tonight and Raegan was fantastic.”
Midway through the second half, Beeding was under pressure for the first time. However, she managed to make four diving stops on shots just outside the 18-yard box.
While she was headlining the defense, returning all-state midfielder Rylan Childers notched the only goal her team needed. She deked a North defender and then unleashed a crossing shot that slipped inside the opposite post in the 36th minute.
“I kept trying to find a teammate, but couldn’t find one,” said Childers, who had one of the Eagles’ 11 shots on goal. “I just kept it as long as I could, and after that, I was past the defender and I just took a shot on goal.”
Childers put on a dribbling clinic not only on that play, but during an impressive sequence in the second half. The senior dribbled all the way from the top of Grain Valley’s penalty box to inside North’s box. She weaved around defenders along the way and sent a cross to Haley Hunter, whose shot was just over the crossbar.
Nichol said those are just the type of things he’s used to seeing with Childers.
“She’s fun to watch, isn’t she?” Nichol said of the senior, who has signed with UMKC. “She’s just a quality player with a high soccer IQ. She understands what we need in the moment. She so good on the ball and her foot is like a magnet on the ball.”
While Grain Valley was enjoying a big win, Lee’s Summit North coach Ryan Kelley was displeased with his team’s effort.
“We didn’t play very well today,” said Kelley, whose team dropped to 3-3. “I didn’t like how we went about things and the lack of energy we had. We defended really poorly. We talked about this before the game, this game is going to be a mental test. Hopefully we can learn from this.”