In 10 league games, the Panthers allowed just one goal, capping the run with a 1-0 rivalry win against Park Hill on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at Park Hill District Soccer Complex. Nylo Clarke’s goal in the 71st minute stood up as the winner despite the Trojans applying mounting pressure as the clock ticked down.
Park Hill South’s Evan Morrow made just two saves, but the second came at a critical point to preserve the win.
In the 78th minute, the senior goalkeeper came off his line to claim a free kick but missed the first effort. The ball pinged around the box before Morrow grasped the ball. He dropped it after a Park Hill player ran into him which prompted a foul call from the referee despite the protests from the Trojans, but the rebound attempt after the whistle went wide anyway.
“I was getting a little concerned,” Morrow said. “They were finding some holes, but we managed to keep them out. We escaped a little sketchy situation, and fortunately, the call went our way. I got my hands to it, but I need to work on (securing the ball) for the playoffs.”
Park Hill South coach Joe Toigo said he almost preferred overtime to help put the Panthers back in a win-or-go home attitude in the final game of the regular season. They had already wrapped up the Red Division title but were looking to continue a winning streak heading into the postseason.
Dating back to September 23, Park Hill South went more than 1,000 minutes without allowing a goal with Morrow — a returning all-state performer — leading the backline. Fellow senior Seth Hudson also returned from injury during the stretch, adding another all-state standout to the mix.
The goalless stretch ended with a 3-1 win against North Kansas City in the Class 4 District 15 opener Monday, Oct. 26 at Park Hill District Soccer Complex. However, the Panthers (22-3) have won 19 straight since a loss on penalty kicks to Shawnee Mission East (Kan.) in the KA-MO Classic in early September.
Park Hill South’s lone loss against Missouri competition came against Lee’s Summit in August.
“I actually thought it might benefit us if we got to overtime,” Toigo said of the matchup with Park Hill. “We haven’t really had a game on the line at the end of the game in a long time. We’ve always been up two goals minimum for a month and a half, so we were trying to get some benefit out of that — you know, fight to the end like it’s a playoff game.”
Goalless at halftime, Clarke — a junior — scored late after Morrow pushed up the field to take a free kick near the center circle. Park Hill South midfielder Ryan DiBernardo flicked the ball into the path of Clarke, who slotted the ball underneath Park Hill senior goalkeeper Peyton LaFerla. After the goal, the Panthers dogpiled on top of the goal scorer in celebration.
“I don’t know if I liked it,” Clarke said of his time at the bottom of the dog pile. “I got tickled, so I don’t know how I feel about that. I’m going to have to see who did it. For sure, there (is revenge coming).”
After holding on in the regular season finale, the win against North Kansas City pushed Park Hill South into the District 15 championship for another matchup with Liberty. The Panthers won the title last year but lost to Staley in a sectional matchup.
Park Hill South forward Tyler Pisoni scored a pair of goals for the Panthers in the win against North Kansas City, while DiBernardo added the other. The balanced scoring continued for Park Hill South as they look to push into the playoffs for a second straight season.
This year’s Class 4 District 15 championship game is slated for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28. Park Hill (11-12, 5-5 Red Division) was slated to play Staley in the first round of the Class 4 District 16 tournament on Tuesday, Oct. 27, but the result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline. The winner advances to the championship game on Thursday, Oct. 29 at North Kansas City District Athletic Complex.
Park Hill last made the playoffs in 2011, reaching the state quarterfinals.
Platte County 6, Winnetonka 2
The Pirates completed their Suburban Conference Blue Division slate with a win Thursday, Oct. 22 in Kansas City, Mo. in a matchup that featured three red cards.
While playing 10 vs. 9 for the majority of the game, Platte County overcame an early deficit and scored six unanswered. Winnetonka originally took a 1-0 lead in the first couple of minutes, but Pirates sophomore midfielder Chandler Peterson tallied a hat trick in the first half before the match’s major incident changed the environment.
Platte County freshman forward Blake Cochran slid in on the Griffins goalkeeper for a 50-50 ball leading to a confrontation. Players from both teams swarmed into the box, and after diffusing the situation, the officials ended up handing out a two red cards to Winnetonka and one to Platte County.
Peterson scored twice more before halftime to run his total to five goals and put Platte County up 5-0 after the break. He scored the sixth as well, and the Griffins added a late goal to create the final margin.
Coupled with a 4-0 win two days earlier against Ruskin, Platte County entered the postseason at 16-6-1. The Pirates were scheduled to play St. Joseph Lafayette in the first round of the Class 3 District 16 tournament on Tuesday, Oct. 27, but the result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline.
The winner advanced to the championship game, set to kick off at 6 p.m. at Smithville High School in Smithville, Mo.
Peterson scored twice and Cox and Cochran once apiece in the win against Ruskin, the last nonconference matchup of the regular season. Platte County ended up winning its final six in Blue Division play and seven of eight to finish with a 7-3 record — good enough for second behind Belton in the final league standings.