RIVERSIDE, Mo. – A total of six Park Hill South soccer players shared the stage during a signing ceremony Wednesday, Feb. 3, the same way they’ve shared success throughout their careers with the Panthers. Three boys and three girls made their collegiate decisions official, and the theme seemed to be the championship achievements helping gain exposure from coaches at the next level.
“As a class as a whole, that’s kind of what we were about,” Park Hill South midfielder Carson Cavitt-Wells said. “We leaned on each other whenever we needed help throughout the year, and I think all of our success as a program definitely attracted a lot of attention from colleges.”
Three of Park Hill South’s eight seniors on the boys side, who became the winningest class in program history, will play at the next level.
Seth Hudson, a defender, realized his Division I dream, holding true to his commitment to UMKC. In addition to playing at the top level, he gets the chance to stay close to home while also pursuing his desired major of criminology.
Hudson’s recruitment took a hit this past season when a leg injury cost him the first half of the season. He ended up a second team selection to the Missouri State High School Soccer Coaches Association all-state team, playing in the final 14 games, 12 of which were shutouts.
The injury didn’t end up costing an opportunity for the hulking central defender, a mainstay in the lineup at Park Hill South and a standout for his club team.
“There was a little bit of worry, concern just in case something went wrong,” said Hudson, who finished with three goals and two assists a year after earning first team all-state honors, “but I knew I had club season to fall back on if I didn’t get back to high school in time. There wasn’t too much worry but always in the back of my head.”
Hudson’s return aided senior goalkeeper Evan Morrow, who made second team all-state for a second straight season after posting 16½ shutouts. He allowed only nine goals in 25 games while making 110 saves, the backstop of Park Hill South’s 24-4 season that included a 21-game winning streak.
Morrow ended up picking Division II Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C. where he will join the Crusaders behind two upperclassmen goalkeepers on the roster.
“I’ve never felt more at home from that far away from home, if that makes sense,” Morrow said. “I couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere to be in than with those guys down there. Really, I was just looking for a program that was going to challenge me on and off the field, and that’s what I got.
“Atmosphere was probably one of the most important things, one of the things I wanted to carry on from South.”
No one held Park Hill South together during the past two seasons like Cavitt-Wells, the two-time Suburban Conference Red Division offensive player of the year. He moved up from honorable mention all-state as a junior to first team this season after the Panthers advanced to the Class 4 state semifinals before a 1-0 loss to Rockhurst.
Cavitt-Wells led Park Hill South with 16 assists while tying for second in goals at 15, helping the Panthers set a program record for goals in a season with 112. He moves on to Fort Hays State, a Division II school in the MIAA, where he plans to reunite with 2015 graduate Dylan Kintner, a forward for the Tigers.
On the girls side, senior Madi Sanders also plans to reunite with a teammate.
Ben Boehner, a 2000 Park Hill South graduate and former assistant soccer coach at the University of Missouri, helped recruit both Sanders and 2015 all-state graduate Shay Jackson to Florida Gulf Coast University, a Division I program in Fort Myers, Fla. Sanders earned honorable mention All-Red Division honors as a junior in the midfield with five goals and seven assists.
“The connections were made differently, but I’m happy we’ll both be there together,” she said. “It’s hard to be that far away from my family, but I know they’ll make it work and will be there all the time. It’s nice that I already have someone I know there.
“Plus, the campus is like a resort. It’s gorgeous. It’s my dream school.”
A second team all-Red Division midfielder, Mayleigh Oder will also go Division I, choosing Missouri State in Springfield, Mo. Oder ranked fourth for Park Hill South last year with six goals and finished No. 2 in assists for the Panthers, who advanced to the Class 4 state playoffs before losing to rival Park Hill in sectional play.
Park Hill South also split the Red Division championship with Park Hill a year ago.
In all, Park Hill South allowed only 19 goals all season, and Sadie Grigsby started 22 games on the defensive backline and earned honorable mention Red-Division honors. She tallied a goal and three assists but more importantly helped anchor a defense that yielded only five goals in conference play.
Grigsby signed with Hannibal-LaGrange, an NAIA school in Hannibal, Mo.