Smithville’s Kelsey Mothershed finished off a hat trick deep into the second half, providing all the scoring in a 3-0 victory for the Warriors over the Pirates in the Class 3 District 16 championship game Thursday, May 21 at Smithville High School. Platte County still hasn’t beaten Smithville since the regular season in 2010, the same year of the Pirates’ last playoff appearance.
Smithville has now beaten Platte County in five straight district championship game matchups, although the current group, which includes just six seniors, put up a valiant effort.
“I think this game really taught them that they can work without the seniors and work as a team,” Platte County senior left back Chloe West said. “That’s really what we did today, and they’re fast enough; they have good skill. They’re good enough to beat Smithville any day.
“At the beginning of the year we didn’t get along as well as we wanted to, but as the games went on, we learned to work together despite our differences and grade levels. I hope they take that into next year.”
Each of Mothershed’s two first-half goals answered Platte County’s two best spells in attack, lethal counterattacks that doomed the Pirates’ upset hopes. The first came during the 12th minute, a strong left-footed strike that went straight over goalkeeper Faith Burtchell’s outstretched arms.
Platte County managed to settle back into possession, and a 1-2 passing combination between midfielders Teryn Scott, a senior, and Bailey Bologna, a freshman, ended with Scott’s shot right at the goalkeeper in the 21st minute — possibly the Pirates’ best chance.
Just three minutes later, Kylie Nelson sent a flicked header into the path of a rushing Mothershed, who buried a shot low and to the right for a 2-0 advantage.
“We took it better than we have in the past. I feel like our heads didn’t go down at all,” Platte County coach Ashlyn Brantley said.
Burtchell kept faint hope alive.
After making three saves in the first half, the improving freshman stymied five more shots during the second half to keep the deficit to two goals, including back-to-back stops that included a diving punch to her left. Burtchell finished with 11 saves but couldn’t stop Mothershed in a one-on-one situation in the 67th minute that provided the final blow.
“At tryouts, I didn’t know what team I was going to make. Now, I feel a part of the team,” said Burtchell, who won the job early in the season and helped the Pirates to nine shutouts this season. “I’ve grown so much with these girls, and it’s a feeling you can’t replace.”
Platte County managed just three shots on goal and lost to the Warriors for the second time this season, the other a 3-1 defeat during a season-worst three-game losing skid. The Pirates finished 8-2 in Suburban Conference Red Division play — both losses to Kearney — and came in second in the final standings, earning the No. 2 seed for district play.
With a strong group of freshmen, Platte County ended up 12-11-1 and seemingly set the foundation to make a run next year — at the league and district titles with a chance to end some frustrating streaks.
“It’s a young team so it gives us hope and excitement going into the future,” Brantley said, “so we have them for a while so we can groom them how we would like. And they have time to get to know each other and play well with each other.
“It’s always that mental barrier that we have to break to games like this.”