Blue Springs South gets revenge on rival Wildcats in district semifinal
It was going to take more than a steady mist and ominous clouds to rain on the Blue Springs South girls soccer team's parade.
The Jaguars avenged last week’s loss to crosstown rival Blue Springs with a 2-0 Class 4 District 13 semifinal victory over the Wildcats Monday night at South.
Two freshmen and a veteran junior stood tall in the victory as freshman goalie Siman Loethen stopped everything the Wildcats sent in her direction and fellow newcomer Gwen Maggard scored the second goal of the night.
Junior Khaliana Garrett gave Loethen and her teammates some breathing room by scoring off a pass from Braylee Childers in the 17th minute.
"That goal was so perfect," said Loethen, who made a game-changing save early in the game when she chose to punch the ball away from the net, rather than cradle it with wet gloves.
"I knew I might not be able to catch and stop that kick, so I punched it away, and it worked! It was so great when Khaliana scored that first goal. It helped us all relax a little bit.
"And the second goal was huge. There were just eight minutes left in the game and the way our girls were playing, I didn't think Blue Springs could come back and score two goals."
While he was disappointed to say goodbye to a young team that featured nine freshmen and just five seniors, Wildcats assistant coach Michael Palermo (filling in for head coach Shannon Cunningham , who is out on maternity leave) praised both teams after the hard-fought semifinal match.
"Todd (Findley) does such a great job with his kids, and like us, he's young and we both have a lot of players coming back next season," Palermo said after the Wildcats wrapped up a 2-18 season.
"When two crosstown rivals play each other, you never know what might happen. After we beat them (2-1) last week, our girls were really excited about tonight, and we gave it everything we had – just like we've done all season."
The game had the electricity of a playoff contest from the start. Fans from each team were loud and so supportive and when the final gun sounded, the South student section was covered in confetti.
"What a great atmosphere," Findley said after his team punched its ticket to a 6 p.m. Wednesday championship match at home against Lee's Summit North, an 8-0 winner over Truman. "This game meant a lot to our girls, especially after they beat us last week. We didn't expect that, and we did not want it to happen again.
"Siman was huge in goal tonight. She's so young and so new, just being a freshman, and she has been a lifesaver.
"And another freshman, Gwen, gets that huge second goal. I love first goals, but I also love the goals that give you much better chance of holding on for a win – like the second, third or fourth goals. Tonight, the second goal got it done.
"And I'm not taking a thing away from Khaliana. You need that first goal to get going and she provided it for us."
Despite the rain, Maggard and Garrett were happy to talk about advancing to the championship.
"This is just so special, beating our biggest rival and having all our fans here. It's a great night," Garrett said.
Added Maggard: "When I was able to score our second goal, I just knew we'd won. Siman has been amazing in goal for us and we just played with so much confidence all night, but you could really see our confidence grow when we had the 2-0 lead with just eight minutes left in the game."