Lee’s Summit North senior midfielder Madelyn Robinson raced onto the field during halftime, carrying a backpack.
She received cheers from the home crowd as she sat on the bench and changed from her running shoes to her soccer cleats. About two hours earlier she had just competed in the 4x800-meter relay Saturday at the Class 5 Missouri State High School Track and Field Championships at Battle High School in Columbia.
After the race, she rushed to Lee’s Summit North High School for the girls soccer team’s quarterfinal match with Liberty, making the 90-minute drive. The soccer game was moved from 1 p.m. to 12:15 p.m. because of possible inclement weather coming in the late afternoon.
Robinson was initially supposed to compete on Friday at state track, but the meet site at Jefferson City High School was devastated by a tornado, damaging much of the stands and the press box, along with the track and playing field.
That forced the Missouri State High School Activities Association to make state track a one-day event at three different locations, making Robinson having to compete in track and soccer in the same day.
She was subbed in with 30 minutes left in the game and even scored a goal late in the game, but it wasn’t enough as North’s season came to an end in a 4-1 loss to Liberty.
“It was kind of cool,” Robinson said of the crowd reaction to her return. “I thought I was going to make the game earlier, but my race got moved up, so I was sad that I wasn’t going to be here the whole game. It was nice for them to cheer because I needed that boost me up.
“I felt pretty good. I had that one and a half hour ride from Columbia. It wasn’t too bad.”
Robinson scored on a long pass from senior Joanie Westcoat, as she put in a shot from close range. However, that cut Liberty’s lead to 3-1, and Liberty sophomore Maya Gaona put the game away when she received a direct free kick from a teammate, made a quick turn and blasted a 25-yard shot past North’s diving goalkeeper Morgan Glasgow to make it 4-1 in the 71st minute.
“It was good to get her back. We missed her in the first half,” North coach Ryan Kelley said. “Liberty was impressive, they played very, very well today.”
The Broncos, who finished 8-13, struggled to get the ball inside the 18-yard box as the Blue Jays defense stymied them for most of the game. North often had to settle for shots from 30 to 40 yards away from the goal.
Liberty didn’t have much trouble creating chances as it held an 11-5 advantage in shots on goal, including 6-0 in the first half.
“They get a lot of numbers forward, and when they do that, they make it difficult to play the ball out of the back,” Kelley said. “They have a lot of team speed and they are aggressive, which makes it hard to play through them. We wouldn’t get our passes off quite quick enough.”
Madilyn Hamline, who verbally committed to Mizzou, scored the only goal in the first half to put Liberty up 1-0. She later received a through ball from a teammate, outran a pair of North defenders and beat Glasgow on a challenge to make 2-0 early in the second half.
“She’s really fast,” Robinson said. “I play against her in club soccer, so I knew she was going to be a threat.”
In the 55th minute, Gaona made it 3-0 when she spun around a North defender and put it into an empty net after Glasgow came off her line. The Broncos mustered more of an attack in the second half, but could only muster one goal.
It was a roller coaster season for the Broncos as far as win-loss record goes, but Kelley considered it a successful season. He had high praise for his nine seniors – Robinson, Kaylie Rock, Westcoat, Hailey Englund, Emma Willard, Katie Shatzer, Pyper Ott, Jayme Coon and Halle Hill. They made the state championship game, two quarterfinals and won one conference title in four years.
Many of the seniors walked out of their locker room with tears rolling down their cheeks as they hugged the assistant coaches and Kelley on the way out.
“You look at our record, and it’s not what we hoped for at the beginning of the season,” Kelley said. “We try not to focus just on our record. Are we playing well? Are we doing things the right way? This group of girls, they are awesome to work with. They had a positive attitude and work hard.
“When we were struggling in the middle of the season we had moments when we were down. We didn’t play well, but the girls wanted to come in and get better. That effort carried into these last two weeks. It was a great season from that sense.”