In a game that featured outstanding defense by both Suburban Small Seven teams, Grain Valley High School girls soccer coach Tyler Nichol knew that his Eagles would have to make the most of their infrequent scoring opportunities.
That’s why a laser-like pass from Maddie Shields to Raena Childers in the 58th minute was so important.
Childers, one of the premier goal scorers in the metro area, took the pass and drilled it past Smithville goalie Arlee Cado for the lone goal of the night in a 1-0 Eagles victory on a beautiful spring evening in Grain Valley.
The win helped the Eagles improve to 6-4 overall and 4-0 in their first season in the Suburban Small Seven Conference.
And that 6-4 record is a bit deceiving as Nichol’s Eagles have suffered losses to big class foes Staley, Liberty, Liberty North and Blue Springs South.
“We’re always going to play the best competition,” Nichol said. “With this being our first year in the Suburban Conference, none of us really knew what to expect – and we’re thrilled to be 4-0.
“And our losses have been to some of the best programs in the area, and those games will help us down the road when we face some of our toughest competition.”
Smithville limited the Eagles’ chances as well, but they needed just one to get through, thanks to the defense.
“There weren’t many scoring opportunities, but tonight, one of the premier players in the area did what premier players do – score when they have the chance,” Nichol said. “And we didn’t have many chances, so we’re all happy that Raena was able to score that goal.”
Childers’ No.1 cheerleader was goalie Raegan Beeding, who never allowed a shot by the Warriors to hit the back of the net.
“There was great communication tonight and I thought this was one of of our better defensive performances,” Beeding said. “Everybody gave 100 percent, and that’s what you have to do in defensive games like this. And then Raena scored the game winning goal, which is what Raena does for us.”
Yet Childers passed the attention on to Shields, whose pass was so perfect that the sophomore standout did not break stride as she attacked the Warriors’ net.
“That was a perfect pass,” Childers said. “All I had to do was kick it into the net. From the start, we knew this was going to be a defensive game, and it was. So much of the game was played at midfield, and it was so important for us to score when we had the chance and Maddie’s pass let us do that.”
While Childers anchored the offense, first-year starter Kami Drollinger starred defensively from her midfield position.
“I was on our junior varsity team last year, so I was really intimidated when I started this year, especially since we moved up to a bigger conference,” said Drollinger, who, like many of her teammates is battling cold and flu-like symptoms. “But we’re playing so well! We lost a lot of seniors last year, and a lot of them are playing soccer in college, but we just keep winning. I think that says a lot about our coaches and our culture.
“What we did in the past doesn’t affect us now, but no one wants to be a team that doesn’t have success because Coach Nichol has had so much success every season. And this year, we’re undefeated in conference and we’re scoring goals and tonight, we played great defense. And that’s how you win a lot of games, and that’s what we want to do this year – win a lot of games."