Grain Valley High School coach Tyler Nichol and his highly successful girls soccer team might be found on a nearby street corner with a sign stating: “LOOKING FOR OPPONENTS.”
That’s because so many of the larger schools don’t want anything to do with the giant killers, while schools their own size avoid the Eagles like a vampire shuns daylight.
That’s why Nichol could still manage a smile following a 3-1 loss Friday night to Suburban Big Seven power Lee’s Summit North on the Broncos’ home field.
“This is a good opportunity to play a quality school in our area,” said Nichol, whose 6-3 team has lost to two Big Seven opponents and No. 3 state-ranked Webster Groves, “because a lot of schools really don’t want to play us.
“We’ve had a lot of success against schools our size, so it’s good for the girls to go against a quality team like Lee’s Summit North. We appreciate them putting us on their schedule. I think tonight was good for both teams.”
North coach Ryan Kelley agreed with his Grain Valley counterpart.
“We had a tough one last night (2-1 loss to crosstown rival Lee’s Summit) and I was eager to see how the girls responded,” Kelley said after the Broncos improved to 5-2. “I thought we started out a little sluggish, but played much better in the second half.
“That’s a quality team, a really good team. You better know where Rylan Childers is throughout the game or you’re in trouble.”
While the all-time leading scorer in program history did not score a goal, Childers did assist on Avery Brady’s goal in the 31st minute.
“We marked Childers the second half,” Kelley said. “When she has the opportunity to score, she’s going to find the back of the net.”
Despite the loss, Brady managed a postgame smile.
“When we played some of the bigger schools earlier this season, like Blue Springs South (a 6-1 loss), we were scared,” Brady admitted. “We weren’t scared tonight. I thought we really played a strong game, even though we loss. We had our chances, we just didn’t finish.”
North took a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute on a goal by Alexis Mitchell. Brady then tied the game at 1-all, but a slick goal by Cara Panarisi in the 36th minute reclaimed the lead for the Broncos.
“We really wanted to get the lead back before the half,” Panarisi said, “and we were able to do it. They’re a really good team, and we enjoyed playing them tonight. They’re a smaller school, but they play great soccer.”
North goalkeeper Sarah Peters agreed with her teammate.
“They’re such a good team, and Rylan can really score,” Peters said. “I thought we played really well tonight and were able to rebound after that tough loss to Lee’s Summit. This was a good game, a good win.”
Gianna Palmentere added an insurance goal in the 60th minute to help put it out of reach.