RIVERSIDE, Mo. — After a slight moment of hesitation, Park Hill junior goalkeeper Stefan Derra opted to slide and make a clearance with his feet near the edge of his 18-yard box.
The ball fell perfectly to Park Hill South senior forward Nate Newton, and he didn’t waste any time firing an easy shot into the open net. The Panthers’ second goal in the 74th minute put the finishing touches on a 2-0 win in the fifth annual Kick Out Cancer Classic between the rivals Thursday, Sept. 7 at Park Hill District Soccer Complex.
Newton didn’t rush his shot but knew what the attempt meant with Park Hill having played a solid second half.
“I wanted to take my time,” Newton said. “I knew it was an open net, but I was just trying to finish. I focused and just one-timed it — just the side of the foot, nothing too fancy. I wasn’t trying for too much power, just placement, and placed it right in the net.”
Park Hill seemed to be pushing for the equalizer in the closing stages. A trio of dangerous crosses ended up being the best chance for the Trojans to avoid the clean sheet after going into halftime down 1-0.
In the 44th minute, Park Hill’s John Moran — a junior forward — used a pass to send sophomore right back Austin Favela free down the right sideline. His cross into the middle found two open attackers but neither could put a shot on Park Hill South goalkeeper Mark Allred, who ended up making three saves in the shutout.
Four minutes later, Park Hill sophomore forward Matt Lachowitzer hit the top of the cross bar with a cross from the same area.
In the 51st minute, Derra came out to make a sliding stop on Park Hill South junior forward Austin Gates. The counterattack saw Moran fire in another fruitless cross in what ended up Park Hill’s last good chance.
“It was our best half of the season,” Park Hill coach Josh Marchbank said. “We have been preaching the last couple of weeks that we need to be a blue collar team, and we need to outwork and outfight opponents. I think we did that and had them on their heels.
“Everything that we asked of them at halftime, they came out and executed, and we’re a couple of awkward bounces away from pouncing and leveling it up.”
Newton’s goal came nearly 60 minutes after senior forward Alzado Medina put Park Hill South up 1-0. The Panthers have just one returning starter in the lineup, and senior Zach Nay and fellow senior Kyle Werth combine to form the center half of a defense needed to hold more shutouts with fewer offensive options than previous years during the early part of the season.
A team that plays with a five-man defense, Park Hill started to push the defense and threaten the lead right up until the second goal.
“The first goal made me feel a whole lot better,” Farmer said, “because you know what their game plan is. It’s obvious. When we got that first goal, I was real comfortable, but I have to say (Marchbank) changed his game plan the second half. They were much more attacking and put us under a few times.
“We were on the defensive most of the second half.”
The early stages of the match didn’t feature many chances with Lachowitzer scrubbing a left-footed shot wide in the eighth minute on the first attempt for either team.
Park Hill South settled into a spell of better possession, and high pressure from the Panthers forced a turnover in the midfield in the 18th minute. Medina found himself on a breakaway and slotted his shot past junior Gabe Smith, who started and played all of the first half in the Trojans’ normal goalkeeper rotation.
Ian Sprick, a junior left back, threatened with a cross that became a shot for Park Hill South in the 25th minute, and Newton had two attempts — one on target that forced a save from Smith — in the final six minutes of the half. The Panthers seemed to be in firm control but didn’t maintain the momentum after halftime.
“Our touches weren’t there; our passes weren’t there,” Newton said. “Toward the end, we started to figure it out, but the energy is what killed us. In the future, we need to come out even harder in the second half to put teams away.”
Park Hill South won a second straight with five goals total in the victories, but the Panthers had scored just two goals during a 2-2-1 start to the season.
Park Hill South 3, St. Joseph Central 1
The Panthers won for a third time in a span of four games and kept their lengthy Suburban Conference Red Division winning streak alive Monday, Sept. 11 in St. Joseph, Mo.
Newton scored on an assist from Carson Lindsey just before halftime to put Park Hill South up 1-0, but Central leveled seven minutes after halftime. The Panthers avoided any thoughts of overtime with goals in the 60th minute (Sebasttian Panimbosa from Lindsey) and 73rd minute (Alex Hammond from Isaiah McGilchrist).
Park Hill South improved to 4-3-1 overall and 2-0 in Red Division play. The Panthers have 33 straight league wins dating back to 2013.
Lee’s Summit North 1, Park Hill 0
The Trojans’ losing skid hit six straight Monday, Sept. 11 at Park Hill District Soccer Complex in Riverside, Mo.
Park Hill sits at 2-8 overall and 0-4 in Suburban Conference Gold Division play. The Trojans gave up the lone goal just before halftime and ended up shut out for a third straight game.
Shawnee Mission NW (Kan.) 2 Park Hill South 1
The Cougars scored with a minute to play with a shot from a difficult angle, stealing the victory Saturday, Sept. 9 in Shawnee, Kan.
Despite a sluggish start, Park Hill South didn’t concede a goal until the 37th minute and went into halftime down 1-0. Lindsey tied it up on an assist from Newton in the 59th minute, and the 1-1 score held until the waning minutes of regulation.
Park Hill South 3, Liberty 1
Ty Rouse scored an important goal just before halftime, and Carson Gates added an insurance goal in the 69th minute of a Red Division win Wednesday, Sept. 6 in Liberty, Mo.
The three-goal performance helped stop a three-match winless streak and made Park Hill South 1-0 in league play. Panimbosa opened the scoring on an assist from Medina in the 19th minute, but Liberty leveled seven minutes later.
Rouse’s goal was on an assist from Gates, while Lindsey set up Gates’ second-half marker.
Staley 1, Park Hill 0
The Trojans were unable to pull the two-game sweep of potential Class 4 District 15 champions, shut out Tuesday, Sept. 5 at Park Hill District Soccer Complex.
Three days after an important win over Oak Park, Park Hill struggled to create chances and didn’t score despite improved play in the second half. Staley scored in the 13th minute off of a free kick that got redirected into the box.