Cancer survivor Jacksyn McIntyre's hat trick gives Blue Springs South win in Sheridan Cup
Moments after Blue Springs South's Jacksyn McIntyre scored his first goal in an emotionally charged Sheridan Cup soccer game against crosstown rival Blue Springs, he sprinted toward the standing-room-only crowd, spotted his mother and shouted, "That's for Grandma!"
He could have added “the best is yet to come,” because the all-state senior forward scored all three goals – off three assists from teammate and longtime friend Dylan Prater – to power the Jaguars to a 3-2 Suburban Big Eight Conference victory.
Before the game, players from both teams observed a moment of silence to honor Dave Sheridan, the former Blue Springs South coach who lost his life to cancer but will be remembered forever by anyone who knew him.
"This one's for Coach Sheridan, for my grandma, who lost her battle with cancer; for our teammate Russell Woods, whose father is putting up a valiant fight against cancer. For everyone whose life has been touched by cancer, this is for them," McIntyre said.
McIntyre could add his name to that list as he is five years cancer free after overcoming a bout with lymphoma that was discovered when he was in the seventh grade.
"I beat it!" he said, pointing to a small surgical scar on his neck. "That's another reason why tonight is so big for me. I can't even tell you what this game means to me, my family, my South (soccer) family and everyone who knew Coach Sheridan.
"I know he coached a lot of those guys on the Wildcats, and they came over here and gave us everything they had. This has become such a great rivalry series, and I want them to know how much we respect all of them."
The feeling is mutual for Wildcats coach Michael Palermo, who managed a smile after his team fell to 11-7 and 6-5.
"I've had so many great conversations with Todd (Findley, the South soccer coach) about how great it is that this is really a strong crosstown rivalry again," Palermo said. "Tonight was a great game, with a great atmosphere. I'm not happy with the final result, but we respect Coach Findley and those guys and we hope to see them again (in the playoffs)."
He paused for a moment, and quipped, "Maybe I can come up with a plan to stop Jacksyn."
He chuckled, as McIntyre was within listening distance and gave a nod and a smile to Palermo.
Blue Springs senior forward Hovan Jaghlasian's first two goals of the season gave Blue Springs a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute and tied the game at 2-2 in the 44th minute.
"Hovan has gotten so much bigger and stronger and he picked a great time to score his first two goals," Palermo added. "He can add a lot to our offense."
McIntyre's first goal came in the 34th minute to tie it 1-1.
He then gave the Jaguars a 2-1 lead in the 43rd minute, but less than a minute later Jaghlasian scored to set up McIntyre's dramatic game winner with about 10 minutes left.
"I knew if I got the ball to Jacksyn," Prater said, "he would do something with it. He's just so explosive. He does something big every game. The teams we play try to stop him. You can slow him down, but you're not going to stop him."
When asked about the game-winner, McIntyre smiled and pointed toward Prater.
"It's all Dylan," McIntyre said. "He makes me look good out there."
With the win that avenged a 1-0 loss to the Wildcats on Sept. 29, the Jaguars improved to 12-6-2 and 9-4 with one regular season home game left against Liberty Wednesday. The Jaguars then have a 3 p.m. Saturday first-round Class 4 District 6 battle with Columbia Battle at Columbia Rock Bridge.
"Both teams are playing so well, and every time we play Blue Springs it's close," Findley said after his team improved to 2-1 against the Wildcats this season, including a 2-1 win in the season-opening Raytown South Tournament. "I have so much respect for Michael and his team and it's always a great match when we play each other.
"We came out on top tonight, and it was so great to play in front of a big crowd, to bring an awareness of cancer and Dave Sheridan to everyone in Blue Springs and to celebrate Russell and his father Brad, who is so inspirational to all of us."
In typical Blue Springs-Blue Springs South drama, Jaguars junior goalkeeper Joey Lorek had to make a diving save in the final minute to secure that one-goal lead and the victory.
Each player held up a sign in support of someone they knew dealing with cancer, and his sign read: "BRAD WOODS."
"We're all here to support Russell and his family and I know what this game means to everyone at South," Lorek said. "It's just such an honor for me to play in this game. I wasn't going to let that goal get by me at the end. No way! Tonight was too important for all of us."