What started as a joking text message turned into a position shift for Calle Boe.
Injuries to junior defender Amanda Sullivan and sophomore midfielder Bailey Bologna shuffled Platte County’s lineup in the preseason. Stocked full of returners ready to make a run, the Pirates were forced reevaluate the roster and look for the right combinations.
A standout midfielder, Boe asked Platte County coach Ashlyn Brantley in a text message about the need to shift to her club team position to help out. The surprising response indicated the junior used to playing in the outside midfield would be moving back to play defense.
“Whenever I got moved back to defense, I was scared for my life, and I was scared I would disappoint the team,” Boe said. “Everyone was nervous to have me back because they weren’t comfortable with me back there, and I understand that because I wasn’t really comfortable with me back there.”
Platte County’s back line continues to adjust, but the pieces now appear in place.
Boe starts in the middle alongside freshman Madeline Donnelli, while senior Haley Valentine started the year in the middle before moving back out to right back. Katelyn Evans, another freshman, resides on the opposite flank in what ended up being a completely rebuilt defense.
The results have started to match the comfort level, too.
Platte County won two in a row heading into a Tuesday, April 12 matchup at Grandview, including a 7-0 shutout of Raytown South on Thursday, April 7. Destinee Smith completed a hat trick in the second half at Pirate Stadium, and sophomore midfielder Hanna Hall scored a pair and assisted on another.
More importantly, Platte County faced zero shots in the Suburban Conference Red Division matchup.
“We definitely got a break tonight,” Boe said.
Platte County’s reformatted defense allowed a goal in all three games of the season-opening Platte County Invitational.
That included a pair of losses playing against a stiff breeze that bunkered down the back line for entire halves of play. In addition, sophomore Kaylyn Hathaway resumed starting goalkeeping duties with fellow sophomore Faith Burtchell out with injury.
Burtchell has played in three games, including Tuesday at Grandview, and that position remains under scrutiny.
Brantley accepted the injury news early and then went to work trying to reconfigure her puzzle. Valentine ended up the only returner on defense, and the losses included not just graduated seniors but Sullivan, last year’s Suburban Conference Blue Division player of the year.
Sullivan and Balagna both suffered torn ACLs in the preseason and will miss the entire year.
Smith continues to play up top with Brooke Zenner in support as an attacking midfielder. Kianna Castro, Katana Audas and Hall have expanded duties in midfield due to Boe’s move and the injury to Bologna.
Boe’s move resonates with her teammates, especially after watching her lonesomely standing near midfield on corner kicks as the last defender back and fighting the instinctual urges to join the attack against Raytown South.
“She’s capable of putting her back against the wall and taking a position for the team,” Hall said.
The offense turned in its best performance of the season vs. hapless Raytown South.
Hall opened the scoring in the 12th minute on Platte County’s fourth corner kick, collecting a loose ball and depositing a left-footed shot into the left corner. Just three minutes later, Zenner knocked a cross from Hall into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Smith doubled the advantage with two more before halftime, but offsides negated at least one goal and a breakaway that could have led to another.
Castro set up Hall’s second with a long ball in the 45th minute, and Smith finished her hat trick 17 minutes later. Audas capped the scoring, collecting a lengthy through ball from Zenner before slotting neatly under Raytown South’s goalkeeper with a shot at the near post.
Despite the lopsided scoreline, Platte County missed out on multiple chances in finishing issues that were also present in a disappointing 1-0 loss to Kearney two days earlier and in a 2-1 overtime win vs. Belton on Wednesday.
“I would definitely say the injuries hurt us,” Boe said, “but we’ve figured it out. We’re just trying to move on as best we can without those girls.”
Platte County sat at 4-3 overall entering the Grandview matchup with the result not available at The Citizen’s deadline. A showdown with Class 5 powerhouse Park Hill looms on Thursday, April 14 with plenty of time for the Pirates to continue adjusting to new roles and building toward a chance to make a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Originally, Brantley expected to have eight starters back, but injuries left her with six. She’s still confident in this talented, if not slightly depleted corps, reaching the district final again. The Pirates have lost to Smithville in the district final each of the past five years.
“It was at first hard thinking about where I was going to put everyone but it’s starting to get easier,” Brantley said. “It’s tough because in sports an injury is always around the corner. I don’t want to say we are out of the woods on that, but I’m hoping we are just because it has been tough.
“I think we can still accomplish those goals we had in mind with the players we do have.”
Platte County 2, Belton 1, OT
Hall’s 70-yard run set up the Pirates’ winner Wednesday, April 6 in Belton, Mo.
Smith ended up scoring the winner on a rebound in the sudden-death overtime. Zenner scored Platte County’s opener in the first half unassisted.
Kearney 1, Platte County 0
Despite a healthy advantage in shots taken, the Pirates lost a key Blue Division matchup Tuesday, April 5 in Kearney, Mo. The two teams meet again Wednesday, April 27 at Pirate Stadium.