The Lee’s Summit North girls soccer team has a shorter trip to this year’s Class 3 state semifinals than it did in 2009.

The Lee’s Summit North girls soccer team has a shorter trip to this year’s Class 3 state semifinals than it did in 2009.

In 2009, the Broncos visited St. Louis, where they finished second. This year’s destination is Blue Springs South High School.

The Broncos (23-3) secured their semifinal spot with Saturday’s 4-0 quarterfinal victory at Park Hill South. Seniors Ashley Licata and Allie Stephenson each contributed two goals and an assist to lead North to its meeting with St. Joseph’s Academy at 6 p.m. Friday at Larry Stewart Memorial Stadium.

“Going to St. Louis and going on the other side, that was always just fun, getting the girls together and going on a road trip together,” said Licata, who made the 2009 trek. “It’s kind of like team bonding. But I’m excited to play ... (close to) home. It should be different, new, pretty fun.”

Stephenson, who also made the 2009 trip, said “it hasn’t really set in yet” that the Broncos are returning to state. Or at least it hadn’t set in when she was interviewed minutes after Saturday’s victory.

“I think we’re all really excited,” Stephenson said. “(We’ll) just keep working hard this week.”

Stephenson helped fuel the Broncos’ dreams of returning to the state title game and winning their first state title since 2000 by scoring in the 26th minute. Shooting from outside Park Hill South’s 18-yard box, Stephenson lined a ball that skimmed the underside of the crossbar and went into the net.

“Our coach told us to just test the goalie, so I just thought I’d test her out and it went in,” she said.

The Broncos nursed their one-goal lead through the first half’s final 14 minutes with their possession game on offense and by dropping six and seven players back in defense. A clutch defensive play by Casey Williamson helped, too.

In the 39th minute, Panthers junior midfielder Courtney Claassen dribbled deep into North’s 18-yard box, clearly seeking a one-on-one shot at North keeper Maddie Dobyns. But Williamson marked Claassen and made sure the threat ended with the ball rolling over North’s end line.

“She got through and I don’t really know what happened, but she ended up running toward our goal,” Williamson said. “And my first thought was just get the ball going away from the goal and not toward Maddie. And then, I just kind of tried to stop her path from going toward the goal and tried getting her running out of bounds.”

Had Claassen scored, it might have been a game-changer, according to Panthers coach Joe Toigo. No doubt, Broncos coach Tim Richardson’s halftime talk would’ve been “a little less complimentary than it ended up being,” Toigo said.

Instead, Licata built on North’s 1-0 halftime lead by finishing a pass from Stephenson in the 46th minute. The Panthers then had three near-miss scoring chances in three minutes, starting in the 51st minute with a free kick that sailed high. In the 52nd minute, a shot by Claassen went wide right. In the 54th minute, a hand ball violation nullified an apparent goal by Claassen.

Having survived those threats, the Broncos added two insurance goals. Stephenson scored in the 67th minute, followed by Licata in the 79th minute.

Licata and Stephenson are “two high-level players” who “complement each other very, very well,” Toigo said.

Following Saturday’s Licata-Stephenson goal-scoring clinic, the Broncos had outscored their postseason opponents 11-0.

“It’s a gratifying feeling to see our players perform that well and make it back to state,” said Richardson, whose club has posted nine straight shutouts, dating back to a regular-season win on May 3 at Blue Springs.

Friday’s meeting with St. Joseph’s will determine if the Broncos play for the title at 6 p.m. Saturday or for third place at noon Saturday.

“We know there’s always good competition,” Richardson said. “Definitely not going to be easy. But we’re going to set our goal to try to take the whole thing.”