Aubrey Avalos had just scored the winning goal, in a white-knuckle 2-1 Class 4 District 14 victory over No. 1 seed Fort Osage, but all the Blue Springs High School junior midfielder wanted to talk about were teammates Gabi Elliott and Mady Cates.
Elliott stood tall in the net, blocking a penalty kick by Indians star Aliyah Ayala at in the 21st minute of the first half and Cates slipped a perfect pass between a host of Fort Osage defenders to Avalos, who scored the game-winning goal a little more than 6 minutes into of the golden-goal overtime period.
“I got a really good ball from Mady, perfect in fact, and all I had to do was kick it — that goal belongs to Mady,” said Avalos, whose precise corner kick to Lily Queen helped the Wildcats take a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute Queen headed the ball past Fort goalie Brooklynn Hendrix.
“And Gabi, my gosh, she has been amazing late in the season. We were all inspired and so excited when she stopped that penalty kick and she made so many big saves tonight. We got off to a rough start this season, but we’re really playing well now.”
Elliott blocked two shots last week in a 2-1 shootout win over crosstown rival Blue Springs South and Cates entered Thursday night’s game coming off a hat trick in a 3-0 semifinal win over William Chrisman.
“We’re playing great soccer now,” said Elliott, who had seven saves against the Indians on their home field. “And it’s so exciting. We’re winning the close games — like the shootout win the other night against Blue Springs South.
“And everyone is contributing. That makes it even more fun and more exciting.”
“We’re a totally different team now than we were at the start of the season,” Cates said. “When Aubrey scored the game-winner, it was just so exhilarating! We’re finding the way to win the close games.”
Queen agreed, calling the win a team effort.
“I got a perfect corner kick from Aubrey and was able to score and Gabi was great all night,” Queen said. “And then Mady has that perfect pass to Aubrey on her goal in overtime.”
Coach Doug McLagan, who led the Wildcats to their first district crown since 2013, said this is the team he has been waiting to develop all season.
“We’re light years better than we were when the season started,” McLagan said, after the Wildcats improved to 10-13. “Gabby isn’t the same goalie — she started the season as a very good athlete playing in goal, now, she’s one of the best goalies in the metro area.
“And all the girls are playing so well. Mady had a great district — all the girls had a great district.”
After a tearful post-game talk with his 20-2 Indians, Fort Osage coach Michael Brown offered congratulations to McLagan’s Wildcats.
“They played a great game tonight,” said Brown, who waited on the bench for a post-game interview as the Wildcats celebrated their big win. “Their goalie made some great saves. Our girls are disappointed right now, but I hope that soon they will realize what a great season we had. We beat some bigger schools and enjoyed a lot of success.”
Megan Lyon scored the lone goal for the Indians. It came in the 69th minute.
“It was the perfect goal,” Elliott said of the shot. “We just had to block it out and make sure that we got into overtime, to give ourselves a chance to win — which we did!”