The ball movement and possession for the Blue Springs South girls soccer team was superb in Thursday’s game against Suburban Big Seven foe Park Hill.
The ninth-ranked Jaguars outshot the Trojans 21-14 (9-7 on goal), but were unable to convert on the bulk of those attempts. Some South shots went just a couple of feet wide of the goal or were stopped by Trojans goalkeeper Kelbey Emerson in a 2-1 loss at Larry Stewart Memorial Stadium.
Nina Stine, the Jaguars’ leading goal scorer, just missed by a couple of feet on three attempts from the right wing in the second half in which her shot from a diagonal angle went just wide left of the far post.
When the game was tied at 1, Stine had a point-blank shot stopped by a diving Emerson, who got a hand on the ball right as it was about to cross the goal line.
“The goalkeeper just barely saved that off the line,” South coach Todd Findley said after his team fell to 12-6 overall and 5-4 in the league. “It sucks bad to get beat so late in the game. That’s tough, but Park Hill is a great team. Some of those shots were a foot or two off the post and I think one even hit the crossbar. And their keeper was standing on her head, like the saying goes. It’s a heartbreaking game.”
Hannah Maupin and Madi Poertner also had close calls saved by Emerson, who had saves eight total.
South did get one midway through the second half when Brie Severns sent a through ball past a couple of defenders to an open Stine, who nudged a shot past Emerson inside the left post to give the team a 1-0 edge.
However, with about 10 minutes left, Park Hill’s Allison Walls banged in a 25-footer from the left wing in the upper right corner of the goal to tie it.
Walls ended up scoring the game-winner in the 78th minute when she got a through ball from a teammate and buried a close-range shot. Both goals came on a pair of defensive breakdowns by the Jaguars, the second when they were caught shorthanded in the back.
“For us to gut out a win against a great team is fantastic,” Park Hill coach Brandt Bell said. “We showed physical and mental toughness. (Alison) has been our leading goal scorer the last two years. She has a nose for the goal and works really hard.”
Despite the loss, Findley was pleased with the way his team was able to play against a Park Hill team that has competed well in a loaded conference.
“Against a great team like Park Hill, I was super pleased with how we played,” Findley said. “We played better than we had the past couple of weeks. Our possession was better. Our communication was better. Or combination play was better. I was delighted with how hard the girls worked tonight.”