RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Park Hill and Park Hill South used their rivalry game as the second annual Kick Out Cancer Classic, and this time, the event drew some noticeable fans.Major League Soccer all-star defender Aurelien Collin and Sporting Kansas City teammates Jon Kempin and Eric Kronberg — both goalkeepers — made an appearance Monday at Park Hill District Soccer Complex. Proceeds from the game’s fundraiser’s going to the Victory Foundation — Sporting KC’s foundation benefiting children who are battling cancer and other serious illnesses.
Collin, Kempin and Kronberg signed autographs and met with fans, and the schools honored cancer survivors and students battling cancer from the district before the match including Trojans’ midfielder Nick Hibbeler who was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year, which Park Hill South won 2-0.
“I can’t say enough about Sporting KC and their support to our soccer family,” Park Hill coach Josh Marchbank said. “They have been there to support Nick through his struggles and players frequently visited him during his chemotherapy treatments. They even honored him at a game last year as their special guest. Soccer is Nick’s passion and they have provided invaluable support to him along his battle with cancer.”
Fans were still filing into their seats when Park Hill South’s Carson Cavitt-Wells opened the scoring, knocking in a goal off of a first-minute corner kick.
“Park Hill’s always a good team to play against, especially here,” Cavitt-Wells said. “We talked about matching their intensity and getting a goal in the first 5, 10 minutes. That really got us sparked up.”
Park Hill never recovered from the early goal, struggling to break down the Panthers’ defense, which recorded its fifth straight clean sheet. Park Hill South goalkeepers Evan Morrow and Jonathan Main, who replaced the starter in the second half after a collision while claiming a cross early in the second half — combined for the shutout, combining to make two saves.
“They’re starting to buy in that (defense) is just as important as scoring the goals,” Park Hill South coach Joe Toigo said. “If we keep getting the zeroes, it’s hard for us to lose. It’s really rewarding for the defenders that the whole team is playing defense. They’re taking pride in the shutout late in the game. We have a good attacking team. We think we’ll find a place to score a goal most of the time.
“If we can get the shutout, we’ll win one-zero.”
Tanner Alderson doubled Park Hill South’s advantage early in the second half.
The junior winger won the ball in the attacking third and drove into the middle on his right foot. Alderson’s initial shot and Ryan DiBernardo’s subsequent rebound attempt ping-ponged in the box before Trojans goalkeeper Peyton LaFerla could react. The ball squirted away, and Alderson buried the shot in the 45th minute.
“It was loose in the box,” Toigo said. “I didn’t even see it go in. There were so many people right there. All of a sudden, the hands went up, and it was like OK, ‘It’s either a goal or a foul.’ It was hard to tell because there were so many people in the way. He’s a hard worker. He’s the third leading scorer on the team (six goals); we’re hoping he can get to 10 goals this year.”
Park Hill South’s offense came without the services of leading scorer Dylan Kintner, who has 21 goals on the year. The senior striker will miss an unspecified amount of games for a violation of team rules, according to Toigo.
After the final whistle, dozens of Park Hill South students rushed the field to celebrate the win against their rivals. The two could meet again next week in the Park Hill South Tournament if both reach the championship game.
“When your rivals storm the field and chant, ‘This is our house,’ it stings,” Marchbank said. “More so than any team in the area, these guys don’t like losing to Park Hill South so when they do it stings. They’re already counting down the days until they play again. They won this game fair and square; they were the better team. Our guys know it. They know they were beat tonight and that does light a fire under their behinds.”