Oak Grove girls soccer avenges earlier losses to rival Pleasant Hill in state third-place game

By The Examiner staff
The Oak Grove girls soccer team members pose with their third-place state medals after defeating rival Pleasant Hill 3-0 in the Class 2 state third-place game Saturday. Pictured are, front row (left to right): Kayla Kemple, Taliya Roark, Riley Ashlock, Meredith Forthofer, Annika Holtorf, Jalyssa Scurio, Keely Huff, Gracelyn Katumura; middle row: Kenzie Baxley, Mollea Salmon, Peyton Coffman, Audrey Forthofer, Jordan Hall, Makenna Gray, Caton Brown, Joanna Cruz; back row: coach Zach Herzig, Drew Boyd, Zoe Holley, Kealyn Wilkinson, Mackenzie Mann, Destiny Valentine, Sam Stark, Grace Sears, Kaiden Riley, Jaylin Storm.

FENTON, Mo. — The Pleasant Hill Chicks have stood in the way of the Oak Grove girls soccer team advancing to state. 

And the Panthers suffered another 1-0 loss in the regular season to their Missouri River Valley Conference West rival. 

Oak Grove avenged that loss and a pair of losses to the Chicks that ended their previous two seasons with a 3-0 victory in the third-place match at the Class 2 Missouri State High School Girls Soccer Championship Saturday at World Wide Technology Park. 

Annika Holtorf scored two goals as the Panthers finished their first appearance at the state final four with a win – their first against Pleasant Hill since 2011. 

“This ending was written in the stars for our seniors,” Oak Grove coach Zach Herzig said after his team completed a 22-3 season. “Their whole career they have been good enough to make the final four. We just kept getting stuck with Pleasant Hill in our district. They ended our season two years in a row. 

“All that built-up anger they have caused us gave us extra motivation to capture third place in the state. Beating them for the first time since 2011 was a storybook ending for our seniors.” 

Senior midfielder Jordan Hall, senior goalkeeper Destiny Valentine and Holtorf, a junior midfielder, played a big part in that win. 

The Panthers grabbed a 2-0 halftime lead. Holtorf took a pass from the left wing by Hall and buried a shot from six yards out past Pleasant Hill goalkeeper Campbell Gregory for her first goal in the 22nd minute. 

With 1:39 left in the half, the Panthers earned a direct kick and Hall buried a shot from 19 yards out on the right wing. 

Valentine helped keep it 2-0 with a big save on a penalty kick in the first half. 

“We played great,” Herzig said after his team made the most of its five shots on goal. “We went up 2-0 in the first half and never looked back.” 

Holtorf buried a similar free kick in the 78th minute for insurance. 

But the Panthers didn’t need it as Valentine finished with six saves to register her school record 15th shutout of the season. 

For Herzig, it helped make up for the 1-0 loss to St. Charles in the semifinal on Friday. 

“State didn't go quite as planned, but I will take ending the season with a win, receiving third place,” he said. 

Valentine came close to another shutout in Friday’s semifinal but St. Charles midfielder Breanna Holloway scored off a rebound from seven yards out in the 70th minute. 

Valentine made five of her seven total saves in the first half to keep the Panthers in it and keep it scoreless at halftime. 

Oak Grove managed just two shots Friday – both in the second half, including only one on goal by Kealyn Wilkinson. The Pirates managed 26 shots, including eight on goal, to snap the Panthers’ 18-game winning streak. 

St. Charles (15-9) fell 2-0 to Ursuline Academy (13-6-1) in Saturday’s championship game.