It was a special Senior Night for Bryce Millican, Will Sheridan and the rest of the Blue Springs South seniors Thursday.
Millican notched a hat trick. Sheridan, who didn’t have a goal all season, scored a pair in his penultimate home game of his high school soccer career to highlight a 8-1 non-conference victory against William Chrisman at Larry Stewart Memorial Stadium.
It was a feel-good moment for Sheridan, who hasn’t had many opportunities to score goals this season. His father and former girls and boys assistant coach Dave Sheridan lost his battle with cancer two years ago.
Whenever Will Sheridan has a good game, he gets plenty of support from his teammates.
“Our kids love that kid and they love Dave and his mom, Cathy,” Jaguars coach Jon Grice said. “The boys really rallied around that family when everything happened a couple of years ago. He’s always been the golden child on this team. He’s the kid everyone rallies behind.”
Sheridan scored both his goals off rebounds in the 14th and 52nd minutes.
“It felt great, especially on Senior Night,” Sheridan said. “We have a great group of guys who support me no matter how the goals look. Let’s just say I was at the right place at the right time.”
Sheridan is part of a rejuvenated Jaguar offense that had consistently struggled to score in recent years. The seniors were a big part of that resurgence. That senior group has helped the Jaguars average 3.1 goals per game, a stark improvement over last season’s 1.65 per game clip. As a result, the Jaguars (9-5) have their first five-game winning streak in a long time, Grice said.
“That has really been our focus as of late, to build our attack and be a little more creative than just going over the top,” Grice said. “Tonight, the group rallied around the seniors. It’s a special night for those kids. A lot of those guys have been friends for a really long time.
“I think they realize that we have a chance to have a really special season.”
So how has the offense improved?
“We’ve started to do more than send Bryce through or get to the end line and see what happens,” Grice said. “We’re moving the ball through the midfield a lot better. Our juniors have done a great job in the midfield. Their vision and what they see with the ball on their foot allows them to create a lot of opportunities for us. We just haven’t had that vision in the past years, game in and game out, like we do this year.”
Millican added that the passing and the pace of attack has been quicker.
“The coaches have been telling us to play faster and get it off our foot quicker,” Millican said, “and we have been taking more dynamic runs toward the goals instead of just going straight. When we started doing that, good things have been coming.”
Chrisman took an early 1-0 lead in the eighth minute after sophomore defender Dylan Gillpatrick had a shot deflect off a South defender and into the goal.
The Jaguars scored eight unanswered goals, which included a goal apiece from senior defender Zian Trober, junior forward Dumaga Ihenacho and junior midfielder Brooks Childers.
But pacing the offense was Millican, who is having another all-state caliber season, Grice said.
“His performances tonight, against Rockhurst, against Lee’s Summit North and against Olathe East, he’s always a handful,” Grice said of Millican. “He deserves all the extra attention he gets on the field.”
For Chrisman (9-5), it was the end of a four-game winning streak.
“We came out with heart and came out strong and fast,” said Chrisman assistant coach Chris Wells, who was filling in for an ill John Straub. “We tried to match South’s speed. In the beginning we were able to. South rebounded off a quick free kick and it went downhill from there. But all the credit to them. South is a great team, one of the best teams we’ve seen all season.”