Bre Pace’s usual routine after a high school soccer game is going to be a bit different than past years.
Instead of waking up to go to school, the Van Horn senior will wake up and drive to her job at HyVee on Noland Road after a game.
For a few hours on Monday night, though, a bit of her "normal" returned on the soccer field at Van Horn High School. Pace was one of three seniors that had a chance to play their last game at home in a scrimmage against William Chrisman. The Bears won 6-3 in the game played in front of hundreds of fans – many cheering on the home Falcons wearing an all red kit.
"It kind of feels like I should have school tomorrow but I don’t," said Pace, who will attend the University of Missouri this fall and plans to major in animal science. "This year has been throwing me off. It is crazy … it’s insane. It is sad, but it comes with perks, like the fact we get to go to Sporting KC’s stadium to graduate. That is super cool – to me at least."
Pace was one of three seniors honored by the Falcons following the contest. The others were Addison Smith and Vidi Perez, who will also go to school at Missouri this fall and major in biomedical science. Smith will stay close to home and attend Metropolitan Community College.
Each were bestowed gifts, got hugs from teammates and all three had tan hula skirts placed around their waists one by one – each laughing and smiling as the underclassmen performed the task.
Before she walked with her dad Cody across the turf field, Pace had to ring out her jersey after getting water dumped on her by teammate Allie Christman.
"I didn’t know if we would have a senior night or anything," said Pace, who has settled into her 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift at the local grocery store. "I thought I would cry, but I think those tears will come at the end of the Truman game."
Van Horn’s next and last game for 2020 is Thursday at 5 p.m. against Truman, while Truman plays at Chrisman at 5 p.m. Tuesday in game two of the round-robin event to help make up for the season missed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monday’s match was dominated by Chrisman freshman Cameron Wells, who scored all six goals in the victory. She had a hat trick in the second half with four goals, but got her third goal for the hat trick in the 45th minute to make it 3-0. She previously scored in the third and 37th minutes.
Wells’ fourth goal hit the top of the crossbar – over the outstretched arms of fellow freshman Erika Parrish in goal for the Falcons – and fell behind the white line on a shot from 25 yards away in the 56th minute.
Over the final 15 minutes of play, five goals were scored.
"It was an amazing game," Pace said. "The first couple minutes killed me because I hadn’t played in so long. I was nervous. I kept thinking ‘I’m out of shape, I’m out of shape, I’m out of shape’ – but once we got into the groove of things, it’s like we never stopped. I feel like Thursday will be a lot easier. We did a lot better. Knowing Chrisman and playing against them for the last four years, they are good. We started scoring and I thought, ‘OK, we are getting into it.’"
The past two meetings between Chrisman and Van Horn, the Bears won by a combined 8-0 score, taking the 2019 game 5-0 and 3-0 in 2018.
The Falcons were idle from March 14 to June 15, when they returned to practice. The rust showed early but they turned the corner in the second half with two goals in two minutes.
Adrianna Lara, who will be a freshman in the fall at Van Horn, scored the first goal for the Falcons in the 65th minute, getting on the back side of the post on a shot through the goalie box and tapping the ball in for a goal.
Two minutes later, Anya Linstrom scored for Van Horn, which played its first game under head coach Zach Wilson. The longtime boys and girls assistant coach replaced Vanessa Brockmire, who was going to be coaching her final season with the Falcons this spring but didn’t get to after the coronavirus pandemic canceled all MSHSAA spring sports in early March. Brockmire left the district for a job teaching at Grain Valley.
Wilson, most recently the girls assistant coach in 2018, knew most of the girls, so the transition wasn’t hard. They had two weeks of practice with him recently to get to know him and prepare for these games.
"They came out and worked hard for 80 minutes and didn’t give up," he said. "That is all that I can ask for. I think we were two or three mistakes away from a closer game."
After Linstrom made it 4-2, the teams traded goals over the final 8 minutes.
In the 72nd minute, Wells scored her fifth goal and in the 78th minute, tallied her sixth goal. In between those, Van Horn got a goal from Cordelia Payne, who fielded a deflected shot at the near post and kicked it across to the left side of the goal, which made it 5-3 with three minutes left.
Wilson, though he only had a little time working with the Van Horn seniors, is thankful for what they provided.
"They show up and they worked really hard," he said of the trio of 2020 graduates. "They showed the underclassmen what it is like to be committed, to do their best and never give up. That is a lot of intangibles right there that we will miss. I definitely look forward to our young players. Our whole team tonight was basically freshmen and sophomores that are moving on up. Next year I see us doing some damage."