It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Blue Springs soccer team. The Wildcats lost Carlos Llamas, their leading scorer. Then they lost five straight games.
All seems better now.
Llamas is back, and Blue Springs now has a two-game winning streak after beating St. Michael the Archangel Catholic 3-1 Tuesday night at Lee’s Summit North. And with a string of Suburban Big Six games coming up, the Wildcats (10-6) are happy to be headed in the right direction again.
“We’ve bounced back the last couple of games,” Blue Springs coach Michael Palermo said. “We lost Carlos five games ago, and since then we’ve had a hard time putting the ball in the back of the net. We’ve been playing really good, but we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
Llamas, a senior midfielder, returned Monday, just in time for the Wildcats’ 4-0 skid-snapping victory over Kearney. He was one of three Wildcats to find the back of the net against St. Michael, scoring the second of two second-half goals that put Blue Springs in command.
“Getting him back on Monday helped,” Palermo said. “Just having him on the field pulls players away and he creates goals for other people. Other people are stepping up now and scoring goals.”
Midfielder Micah Lubin stepped up quickly for Blue Springs, knocking in a one-timer to the far post just two minutes into the game. And while the Wildcats created numerous chances after that (they outshot St. Michael 10-2 in the first half), they couldn’t finish them during the first 40 minutes.
St. Michael, meanwhile, got the equalizer in a shot to the far post by Lawrence Roccaro Jr. in the 32nd minute. The Guardians (9-8-2) were awarded a penalty kick in the 37th minute, but defender Sam Tyler’s shot was smothered Blue Springs goalie Max Hayes.
“We were on them and we were playing good soccer at first,” Blue Springs junior midfielder Matthew Martinez said. “As it went on, we were making it an individual game and we weren’t sticking with what worked.”
Blue Springs went back to what was working – playing wide instead of looking down the middle of the field – in the second half. Martinez put the Wildcats ahead for good when he collected and punched in a rebound in the 54th minute. Six minutes later, he set up Llamas’ goal with a through ball to the middle of the 18-yard box.
“Second half we were able to regroup and we really started using our width, isolating our one-on-ones, and then we started creating a lot more chances,” Palermo said. “And then we put our chances away.”
The upturn is coming at an opportune time for Blue Springs, which is in the middle of a busy week. The Wildcats return to Lee’s Summit North tonight for their third game in as many days when they face the Broncos. After that come four more Big Six games to close out the regular season.
“It’s what we need going into a week full of conference,” Martinez said. “We’re just going to try to move up our momentum and win some conference games.”