Kansas signee Raena Childers scores hat trick in tournament final win

By Cody Thorn
The Examiner

PLATTE CITY, Mo. — A young team and a tough tournament field usually don’t go together well.

But the Grain Valley girls soccer team proved that wrong, winning the Platte County Invitational for the second time in three seasons with a 5-2 victory over Staley Friday in Platte City.

The Eagles scored four goals in the first half – three by Raena Childers – to set the stage for the win.

“You know it is a great start for us,” Grain Valley coach Tyler Nichol said after his team improved to 3-0. “It is a little unexpected. We have a young group; we have a couple very veteran, good senior players, but with as many freshmen as have out there … this week we had tough games. I’d like to get two (wins) and be over .500, but to win all three is a good feeling for us and a huge boost for our confidence going forward.”

More:Raena Childers scores both goals as Grain Valley advances to Platte County Invitational final

The Eagles won nine of their first 10 games in the 2018, the lone exception was a tie in the second game of the season and the first in the Platte County Invitational that year. They would win the next two to take the team title. After this year’s win, the players each got T-shirts that said champions on the back of it.

Grain Valley did most of its damage early, scoring three times in an 11-minute span.

Freshman Kylee Bragaw scored the first goal in the 13th minute, getting a pass from Childers and burying a shot from about 20 yards out – just underneath the top crossbar.

“Everyone was getting open and passing well and everyone was getting wide,” Bragaw said. “Raena dribbled it and I got open and she laid it off; it was a good pass by Raena.”

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The Eagles then added two more goals in two minutes. Childers buried a free kick from 25 yards out in the 23rd minute and the next minute, she scored on a pass from Emma Thiessen – one of five freshmen who started and six in the rotation.

Childers completed her hat trick in the 36th minute when she scored on a penalty kick – sending the shot into the right side of the goal just like her penalty kick in Wednesday’s 2-1 over Kearney.

The goal was set up by Bragaw, who was tackled inside the goalie box. Childers offered to let the freshman take the shot but she deferred to the future Kansas Jayhawk.

The 4-0 lead at the break was cut in half by the Falcons with goals in the 43rd and 50th minutes by Jordan Bedard and Ruby Henson, respectively.

Momentum quickly shifted back when Thiessen scored a goal two minutes later, cashing in on a chance after having two close calls on shots on goal earlier.

“It is pretty amazing since our squad is so pretty young, and I’m just happy that we start out strong with tougher teams,” Childers said. “I’m super excited for the rest of the season. We are young. I know the freshmen don’t have experience yet, but they are definitely learning and growing.”