KANSAS CITY, Mo — Park Hill found the perfect relief to a busy and unrelenting portion of the early season schedule.
After struggling to score during a recent skid, the Trojans scored early through Chris Munoz and added a second off of a free kick after halftime Saturday, Sept. 2. They held strong until late and came away with a 2-1 win against Oak Park at North Kansas City District Activities Complex in Kansas City, Mo.
Park Hill not only ended a three-game losing streak but also avenged last year’s painful penalty shootout loss in the Class 4 District 16 title game. While many of the faces were new, the intensity carried over.
“We know their strengths, and they lost a lot of players and we lost a lot of players so there’s a lot of fresh faces,” Park Hill coach Josh Marchbank said. “We’ve had a lot of new guys come in and guys from JV last year and come in and filled those holes and performed very well so it’s been a taxing start to the season, but this was a huge win for us.”
Park Hill improved to 2-5 after scoring just twice during a five-game losing streak, which included back-to-back road trips to Raymore-Peculiar and Lee’s Summit North and just one home match.
An early breakthrough helped make a big difference between two teams that split last year’s two meetings. John Moran, a junior, tracked down a ball in the corner and found Munoz for an open shot to finish off a piece of combination play inside of 10 minutes.
“It was huge, and our defense has actually been very good this year,” Marchbank said. “We’ve just struggled to generate chances to score goals.”
The lead held until the second half.
Park Hill doubled its advantage after halftime through a set piece opportunity. Jackson Turner, a senior midfielder, spotted up a free kick and found senior defender Gabe Rau for the second goal to make it 2-0. Oak Park scored late but never had a chance to score an equalizer.
Last season, Park Hill and Oak Park went scoreless through regulation in both matchups. Park Hill won the regular season meeting on a free kick goal late in overtime, while Oak Park won the penalty shootout in the postseason.
Park Hill was scheduled to play Staley on Tuesday, Sept. 5, but the result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline. The Trojans will be battling with Oak Park and Staley for the top seed in the Class 4 District 16 field, meaning the victory over Oak Park carried a lot of weight in what will be an important two-game stretch.
“We’re ragged but they knew how important this game was as far as postseason goes I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Marchbank said. “This was step one, and step two is taking care of business against Staley. Hopefully, it’ll help put us in a position to get a good seed in districts, and I think we’ll match up well against Staley.”
Lee’s Summit North 4, Park Hill 1
Defensive miscues plagued the Trojans in a Suburban Conference Gold Division loss Thursday, Aug. 31 in Lee’s Summit, Mo.
A week after the two teams played to penalty kicks in the Liberty Kickoff Classic semifinals, Lee’s Summit North took a 3-0 lead into halftime of the rematch. Park Hill broke a scoreless streak in the 51st minute on a free kick from Jack Austin that found junior defender Aaron Simpson on the back post.
Simpson buried the shot to briefly cut the lead to 3-1, but Lee’s Summit North added the fourth about a minute later.
Raymore-Peculiar 2, Park Hill 0
The Trojans lost their fourth straight in a Suburban Conference Gold Division matchup Wednesday, Aug. 30 in Raymore, Mo.
Gabe Smith and Stefan Derra continued to split time at goalkeeper with each allowing one in the match. Raymore-Peculiar went ahead midway through the first half and added the second goal in the closing minutes with Park Hill pushing for an equalizer.