The Park Hill sophomore midfielder bent the ball toward the back post looking for a chance to provide an opportunity for a teammate. Instead, the ball kept hooking and found the net to provide the cushion needed to hold on for a 3-1 victory against Platte County on Thursday, April 16 at Park Hill District Soccer Stadium.
“I was just thinking, ‘You have to make this good for the team to get a bigger lead and being more comfortable on the ball,’” Paulak said. “It surprised me a little bit. You just work on curving the ball a little bit. Occasionally when you strike it, you get a little curve to it. It just comes with practice.”
Paulak’s unorthodox goal — known as an olympico — reestablished a two-goal lead with time winding down.
Platte County cut its deficit in half during the 65th minute when senior Nicole Larson broke down the right wing and cut into the box. Her ensuing shot hit the post and rolled along the goal line, allowing junior forward Brooke Zenner to smash home the ball for the only blemish against Park Hill goalkeeper Kelbey Emerson, who made two saves.
Now 5-6-1 after losses to Smithville and Liberty North this past week, Platte County continued to press more looking for the equalizing goal before the late Paulak marker erased most of the hope.
“I think that goal gave a little more spirit to our girls,” Platte county coach Ashlyn Brantley said. “It added to the pressure and intensity of our game. We can’t hold back. We can’t wait ’til we’re down in a hole to come out. That intensity needs to be from the first whistle through the whole game.”
Park Hill went up 1-0 on a sixth-minute rebound goal from Raena Woodruff, who followed up a shot from Alison Walls.
Platte County goalkeeper Faith Burtchell stopped the initial effort, but the ball trickled away from her and across the 6-yard box allowing for an easy finish for Woodruff, a junior winger.
“When I saw the opportunity I knew I needed to get up there to help the team,” Woodruff said. “It gave us a lot of energy to know we could finish against a good opponent. It kind of set the standard for the rest of the game.”
Allie Simpson doubled the lead for Park Hill in the 51st minute when she latched onto the end of another Paulak corner kick to head home past Burtchell, who made four saves. The Trojans took eight corners total and took advantage of two in the two-goal win.
“We’re an experienced enough team now at this point of the season that I’m confident we can either defend the lead that we have or get the goal back,” Park Hill coach Brandt Bell said. “I was confident the girls were going to figure things out. When (a late goal) happens, it definitely excites the other team, and it puts a negative energy on your team. The girls responded pretty well.”
Park Hill 1, Liberty North 0
Trojans senior Olivia Nowakowski scored the only goal, and Emerson kept her fifth clean sheet of the season in a nonconference matchup Friday, April 17 at Park Hill District Stadium.
Blue Springs South Tournament
Park Hill 3, Blue Springs South 0
The Trojans won their opener in the tournament and increased their winning streak to five and unbeaten streak to six straight Monday, April 20 at Blue Springs South High School. Walls, Rachel England and Taylor Buckholz.
Park Hill (8-3-3) was scheduled to play Rock Bridge on Tuesday, April 21, but the result was not available at deadline.
Park Hill South 2, Blue Valley West 1
The Panthers were also victorious in the opener of their pool Monday, April 20. They were scheduled to play Blue Springs South on Tuesday, April 21, but the result was not available at deadline.