Allen, Stafford provide spark as Lee's Summit North blanks Jaguars to claim seventh straight district title
Lee's Summit North girls soccer players Natalie Allen and Ellie Stafford have been friends for as long as they can remember.
They have also been teammates for the same amount of time, in which Allen and Stafford have developed a type of sixth sense. And that paid huge dividends in the Broncos' 4-0 Class 4 District 13 championship victory over host Blue Springs South Wednesday.
Just 45 seconds into the game, Stafford saw her teammate sprint toward the net.
"I knew she was going to make the perfect pass, and all I would have to do was kick it in the net," said Allen, who did just that to give the Broncos a lightning quick 1-0 lead.
"Honestly, I was happier for her than if I had scored the goal," Stafford said. "We've been friends forever. We didn't need to say anything because we were both thinking the same thing. I knew just where she was going to be, and we got the quick lead."
And no one appreciated that goal more than Broncos sophomore goalie Maddie Sibbing, who took a deep breath after the score and thought to herself, "Now I can relax a little bit. Maybe not relax, as much as feel confident, because an early goal like that is huge."
So was Lauren Draney's goal in the ninth minute.
"A 1-0 lead is great," a grinning Sibbing said, "and a 2-0 lead is even better. You could just see all our confidence grow with that second goal. The first was great, too, but a 2-0 lead in a district championship is huge."
Coach Ryan Kelley, whose 9-12 Broncos will host a Class 4 sectional playoff Tuesday against the Class 14 champion – St. Teresa’s Academy or Notre Dame de Sion, was happy to see the fast start.
"It was the perfect start to the game," said Kelley, whose team split two games with the Jaguars during the regular season, losing 2-1 in overtime and gaining a 3-1 victory later in the season. "We came into this game against a well-coached team that was full of confidence after they beat Blue Springs in the semifinals (2-0 on Monday).
"They'd beaten us earlier in the year and we came back and got a win, so today was really big for both teams. And when you get a goal 45 seconds into the game, it's huge. And then we take the 2-0 lead into the half. But any coach will tell you that a 2-0 lead can be trouble because you make one bad pass or mistake and it's a 2-1 game very quickly.
"But we avoided that mistake and played a solid second half. And those two late goals were big, too."
Cali Siegmeier scored in the 69th minute to make it 3-0 and Cassidy Calvin scored at the 74-minute mark to put an exclamation point to the Broncos’ seventh straight district title (there was no 2020 season).
Following the game, South coach Todd Findley told his youthful team just how proud he was of their effort this season and managed a smile as he walked off the field.
"We didn't have the success we wanted this season," he said after his team wrapped up its 6-16 season, "but we managed to survive a lot of things and I am so proud of this team. We were so young, we battled through some tough injuries and we continued to improve as the season went on.
"You know, it's interesting the way the game started. I had thought in the back of my mind that we might be able to do something like that right away and take an early lead and gain some confidence. But Ryan's kids were able to do it, and congratulations to them.
"The best team won tonight, but I can't wait for next season. We have so many of our players back and maybe – just maybe – we will get back to some normalcy."