KU signee Raena Childers notches career-high in goals in Eagles' win over Blue Springs

Michael Smith
The Examiner

Grain Valley senior Raena Childers is considered one of the best girls soccer players in the state.

So any time the Eagles play, their opponent is likely to focus a lot of its defensive attention on her. It was that way in Friday’s game against a young Blue Springs team, though it didn’t make a difference.

Childers finished with a career-high six goals as she powered Grain Valley to a 6-2 victory over the Wildcats in a non-conference matchup at Peve Stadium.

“I thought we could have competed better,” said Blue Springs girls assistant coach Mike Palermo, who is filling in for head coach Shannon Cunningham while she’s out on maternity leave. “They have Childers and she scores (six) goals. She’s a (NCAA Division I) player. She showed why. She’s a handful.”

Childers definitely was in the first half as she scored four of her six goals. Her first goal came on a penalty kick, one was on a corner kick from freshman Emma Thiessen and the other two were unassisted shots from her non-dominant left foot.

“It was exciting that we got the win,” Childers said after the Eagles remained undefeated at 7-0. “This will help us for future harder games.

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“Technical-wise, we weren’t as strong as usual, especially at the very beginning. Our touches weren’t good. We ended up stepping up after the first goal we got.”

Although it was Childers’ best game from a scoring perspective, Grain Valley head coach Tyler Nichol was not surprised by the outburst.

“It’s just Raena doing Raena things,” Nichol said. “To be honest, she’s really been a distributor this season. Thiessen has been scoring a lot of goals. (Childers) probably doubled her goal total on the year or close to it.

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“When she takes over, you get to watch the Raena show and it’s pretty fun.”

Blue Springs (1-5) narrowed the gap to 4-2 early in the second half when freshman Carley Lagemann struck for goals twice in a minute, starting in the 45th.

“We came out pretty slow,” Palermo said. “Not a lot of effort and not a lot of energy. We’re just playing with such inexperience right now. We are starting seven freshmen. We only have four girls on the roster who have played high school soccer.

“We didn’t play last year because of COVID, so our few sophomores are new to high school soccer, too. We fight and battle. I am proud of them for that.”

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Childers continued to dominate as she scored in the 51st minute off an assist from Thiessen and in the 74th minute after a backward pass from Thiessen following a direct free kick. That was the freshman’s third assist of the day.

The chemistry between Thieseen and Childers has been a big factor in Grain Valley’s undefeated start. The teamwork between the two has been excellent, despite the duo playing high school soccer together for the first time.

“I’ve known her my entire life,” Childers said. “She used to play with my little brother. And her older brother played with my older brother. She looks up to me as a leader and she does very well with helping me and I help her.

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“It’s shocking because we haven’t played much with each other. I know where she wants it. It’s all about communication. We work on it in practice and it shows on the field.”

Nichol said the fact that they work well together is evident.

“They have developed an incredible chemistry,” Nichol said. “Honestly, we didn’t expect it to happen this early. They hear each other’s voices and they know where the other is going to be before they even make it.

“They give each other one-touch passes that are just hard to defend.”

Grain Valley outshot the Wildcats 14-5, including a 9-3 advantage in shots on goal.