The beginning of the season didn’t go as planned for the Lee’s Summit North girls soccer team.
The senior-laden Broncos began the season with a 1-7 record before winning four of their next five games. They ended the regular season on a four-game losing streak.
North, however, has turned it on again for the playoffs. It defeated Raytown and St. Teresa’s Academy to win districts and defeated Blue Springs 4-0 in the sectional round Tuesday to advance to the Class 4 state quarterfinals.
The Broncos will have a chance to advance to the state final four for the second time in three years when they play host to the Liberty Blue Jays (20-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“I don’t think a lot of people thought we would make it this far,” North senior forward Kaylie Rock said. “We are doing really well.”
So far, the Broncos (8-12) have outscored opponents 16-1 through three playoff games. Senior midfielder Joanie Westcoat credits the team finishing a higher percentage of its shots late in the season for its postseason success.
“We are picking things up as a unit,” Westcoat said. “Things weren’t going well for us at the beginning of the season and now they are. We are finishing more than we used to. We were hitting the posts a lot earlier in the season, which we still do, but not as much.”
The Broncos had a game scheduled against Liberty during the regular season, but it got canceled due to inclement weather and scheduling conflicts. The Blue Jays come in as an unknown for the Broncos as head coach Ryan Kelley and his players have asked other coaches about Liberty.
“We don’t know a whole lot about them,” Rock said. “We have been coming up with ideas how to stop specific players.
“Coach Kelley told us that they will come right at us. Whenever they lose the ball, they will be on us really fast. They are going to win the ball.”
Added Kelley: “We played them last year, and they were relatively young. They are a bit more experienced now. Some of their best players are juniors. They were very good. I knew coming into this year, that they were going to put in a good run. They have some girls committed to play at some high-level college programs. They are fast, aggressive and they play hard. It’s going to be a real challenge for us.”
So what is it going to take to defeat Liberty and advance to the final four?
“(Goalkeeper) Morgan (Glasgow) is going to have to have to be really big for us,” Kelley said. “Joanie and Halle (Hill) will have to step up and make plays. It’s going to take a high-level game for us.”
Rock said the Broncos will have to keep a strong mindset going in, as well.
“We just have a lot of grit,” Rock said. “Going against other people, you can see it in all of us, we want to win. We want to beat the other person. If we keep that mindset against Liberty, we have a good chance.”