Park Hill South made its return to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus, but one year after losing to Staley on penalty kicks in the Class 3 District 16 championship game, the Panthers lost to the Falcons again in a frustrating 1-0 defeat in Class 4 sectional play Nov. 4 at North Kansas City District Activities Complex.
The state added a classification this season, and both schools were in the top tier but now in separate districts.
Tony Varela scored the playoff matchup’s only goal in the 16th minute. From there, Staley bunkered in on defense, surviving multiple chances from Park Hill South to level the score.
“They did a nice job fighting to the end,” Toigo said. “There are no style points in the playoffs; you just win and move on. That’s the way they gameplanned, and it worked for them.”
Park Hill South capitalized opportunities for a 3-0 win against Liberty at Liberty Middle School in the newly-created Class 4 District 15’s championship game on Oct. 30. Dylan Kintner bagged a pair of goals for a brace, and Josh Woods added another to help the Panthers return to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
“We didn’t know where this team was going to end up,” Park Hill South coach Joe Toigo said. “We had so little experience coming back. We just need to continue to build on what we did last year. Most of the younger kids play non-stop. Their passion to keep getting better is what got us to this point. We told them to not only get a year older, but get a year better, too. If they keep working the way they do they will build for sure.”
Park Hill South (23-3) finished up the second best season in school history for overall record – the best coming in 1999 at 24-4 when the Panthers finished third place in Class 1A-3A under a two-class system. They were runners-up in the same class in 1998.