The start of the 2019 season didn’t go the way that Lee’s Summit North head coach Ryan Kelley or his players expected, especially with nine seniors returning.
The Broncos began the season on a four-game losing streak and started 1-7. Not the typical start for a team that’s known for being a perennial power in the Kansas City area.
But they are starting to click in the middle of the season, and it showed against Suburban Big Six Conference rival Blue Springs South Tuesday.
North controlled possession for most of the first half and a good portion of the second half. The Broncos scored three unanswered goals in the final 40 minutes to earn a 5-2 victory at home.
“I know it means a lot to everyone on the team because we started off rough,” North senior Joanie Westcoat said. “We came into the season thinking we’d have a pretty solid team. We didn’t have our best start, but we’re turning it around.”
So what was the difference between the first eight games and the recent five-game stretch in which the Broncos went 4-1?
“I think we’re having fun now,” said Westcoat, who scored two goals. “Earlier, we would come and work hard but the fun would be missing. I think we just started playing, and today, we started playing more with our heart than our brains.”
And North also has played with a lot more energy recently.
“At the beginning of the season, we just kind of went into it thinking we’re going to win,” said North senior Kaylie Rock, who also scored two goals. “Now we’re starting to work hard and we have tons of energy. It’s starting to show.”
It certainly did in the first half as the Broncos (5-8, 3-3 Big Six) dominated possession.They were able to do that because of their physical play, in which they bumped South players off the ball consistently.
“I think we’re a physical team,” Rock said. “It shows in some games more than others.”
South scored the first goal, however, as freshman Mya Trober sent a short cross to freshman Kennedi Hooks, who slipped a diagonal shot past North goalkeeper Morgan Glasgow, who came off her line to challenge the shot.
Rock tied it 1-1 in the 22nd minute when she scored off a corner kick. She gave her team the lead when she put one inside the upper right corner of the goal from 30 yards out in the 34th minute, leading to a 2-1 halftime advantage.
Khaliana Garrett scored in the 44th minute to tie the game once again after receiving a cross from Hooks.
However, about a minute later, Westcoat put the Broncos ahead for good when she lobbed a shot from about 40 yards out toward the Jaguars’ goal. It appeared as if South goalkeeper Ashly Johnson was going to easily stop it. But the ball took a bad hop, went off her shin and into the goal.
Westcoat later scored from 30 yards out on a shot that went off the fingertips of a leaping Johnson to make it 4-2. North freshman Mikayla Lampe capped the scoring with a goal in the 62nd minute.
“Earlier in the season, we were struggling to find the back of the net,” Kelley said. “It really got into our head and impacted us in a handful of matches. Once we got our first goal and first win, the girls breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed a little bit. They are more comfortable playing the game the way we want to play it.
“We’ll see if we can carry this forward.”
For Coach Todd Findley’s Jaguars (9-4, 3-2), the key will be learning how to handle physical play moving forward.
“A veteran club like Lee’s Summit North, it’s a good, strong team,” Findley saud. We play a lot of younger girls and we have to play a stronger style of soccer to beat a team like Lee’s Summit North.
“Their record doesn’t speak to what type of team they are. They are a quality team.”