Even as the rain kept coming down in buckets Tuesday, Kaylie Rock believed the sun would shine on Lee’s Summit North’s girls soccer team.
“I was saying all day the rain was going to stop for our game and it did,” Rock said.
Sure enough, the clouds parted and the sky turned blue about an hour before North played host to Blue Springs in a Class 4 sectional game. And a season that had seemed so gloomy a couple of weeks ago is shining even brighter.
North is in the state quarterfinals for the second time in the last three seasons, advancing with a commanding 4-0 victory over a 9-14 Blue Springs team that was also having a late-season renaissance. North, now 8-12 after starting out 1-7, will play host to Liberty in the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Now Rock, a senior midfielder who was only a sophomore when the Broncos advanced to the 2017 state final, will have a shot at completing the remarkable turnaround with another trip to the final four.
“We didn’t want that to be how the rest of the season went,” Rock said. “We just kept talking about how we needed to flip the switch and the last couple of games you can really see we’ve been turning it around.”
North had to stage another turnaround to get past Blue Springs. At first the Wildcats, who split with the Broncos in Suburban Big Six play, were able to frustrate the Broncos with a rugged effort along the back line.
With just under 16 minutes left in the first half, North got on the board when Jayme Coon floated a shot that landed inside the far post.
Then the floodgates opened in the second half. North tacked on three more goals and outshot Blue Springs 10-2 over the last 40 minutes.
“In the second half we did a better job of setting up combinations,” North coach Ryan Kelley said. “We were getting it out wide, using the flanks more than we did the first half. And that helped us create that second goal.”
Rock scored that second goal off a wide cross from Katie Shatzer that Blue Springs goalkeeper Gabby Elliott at first seemed to have collected. Rock saw that she hadn’t and knocked it in less than five minutes into the half.
“I was watching the cross go in and I just kept watching every bounce as it was going over all their players,” Rock said. “And I noticed when the goalie jumped on it she didn’t have a good grab on it, so I just decided to poke it.”
“Getting that second goal was huge,” Kelley said. “That just really gave us a lot of confidence.”
Senior midfielder Joanie Wescoat made it a 3-0 game with a 25-yard blast with just over 3 minutes left to play. Pyper Ott, a senior defender, knocked in North’s final goal in the final minute.
And Blue Springs, which was playing its first sectional match since 2013, saw its season come to an end.
“I give them credit; they got to every ball before we did the whole game,” Blue Springs coach Doug McLagan said. “I don’t mind getting beat with four great goals but we got beat with four sloppy goals. We had a fantastic season but it was just a disappointing way to end.”