Heads-up play helped the Blue Springs South boys soccer team get past a longtime rival in the Class 4 District 13 semifinals.
John Hurley’s header – off a perfect throw-in from Brett Vaughn – gave the Jaguars an early 1-0 lead as they went on to claim a 4-1 victory over the rival Blue Springs Wildcats Tuesday at Fort Osage High School.
The Jaguars’ Zach Carter then opened the second half by knocking a header past Wildcats goalie Jacob Williams in the 44th minute after a pass from Dylan Shuker and another throw-in from Vaughn.
Bryce Millican knocked a shot past Williams in the 48th minute on an assist from Joel Sterling. Sterling then wrapped up the big night for the 12-9 Jaguars with a goal on another header in the 57th minute on an assist from Will Sheridan.
“They’re a very good team and got up and got those headers to get their offense going,” Wildcats coach Mike Palermo said after his team wrapped up a 7-13 season. “We wish South good luck and hope they do well in the finals.”
The top-seeded Jaguars will play No. 2 Lee’s Summit North, a 5-0 winner over host Fort Osage in the second semifinal.
Blue Springs South goalkeeper Alec Radford stood tall in the net, allowing just a late goal to the Wildcats’ Alex Barajas.
“Getting the first goal was huge, and the way we got it – with that perfect header by John – got us all fired up,” Radford said. “I thought we played well the first half, but we really got it going the second half.”
Jaguars coach Jon Grice agreed.
“The first goal was huge,” Grice said, “but I thought our second goal by Zach was just as important because we were slow the first half. We really didn’t play our game.
“Then, it was like that second goal sparked us and we played much better the second half. I’m really proud of the guys.”
When asked about the throw-in that led to Hurley’s goal, Vaughn grinned.
“We’ve worked on that four years, and we’re getting it down pretty well,” Vaughn said. “I knew when I let it go that John was going to be in the perfect place to have the chance to score.”
Added Hurley: “When I saw the throw, I knew it was perfect. All I had to do was get it in the back of the net.”
Carter said the win was special for two reasons.
“First, it means we get to keep playing,” Carter said. “And it came against our crosstown rival. We know those guys, respect them, play with a lot of them on club teams and love them – but it’s like beating your brother, it just feels good.”
LEE’S SUMMIT NORTH 5, FORT OSAGE 0: Lee’s Summit North patiently waited out Fort Osage’s defensive first mindset in the other semifinal.
After a slow start, the Broncos erupted for four second-half goals to end the Indians’ season at 8-13.
“We knew that we would have to solve Fort Osage’s defense,” North coach Ryan Kelley said. “They dropped 10 players behind the ball and looked to try to counter us when we lost the ball. We had a good game plan to attack and right from the start we created chances. We played with more of a purpose going to goal and found space behind the Fort backline in the flanks to exploit. We struggled through the first half with our finishing, but we kept our focus on the next play and eventually our persistence paid off.”
Parker Allen knocked in a header off an AJ James corner kick to give the Broncos a 1-0 halftime lead.
James scored off a Ben Godsey assist to get the ball rolling in the second half.
“That opened up the game and gave us the confidence we needed to start finishing,” Kelley said.
AB Falah headed in a Kyle Rock corner kick for a 3-0 lead. Duncan Crosby scored off a Tristin Higdon assist, and Blake Landaverry scored on a Nate Kuhlman assist to seal the win for the Broncos (13-7).