RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Jenna Winebrenner simultaneously plays a lot of roles for Park Hill.
Distributor, facilitator, safety valve, organizer, attacker and the top option to receive and take free kicks, the senior does more than most central defenders. Then again, most central defenders don’t possess Winebrenner’s talent level.
Winebrenner showed her value in the subtle ways again in Park Hill’s 3-0 shutout of rival Park Hill South on Saturday, May 6 at Park Hill District Soccer Complex. She kept the Trojans organized and calm as a scoreless deadlock persisted into the second half, allowing time for Mackenzie Sackuvich, Alison Walls and Savannah Gay to score three goals in a span of 14 minutes.
“I just enjoy doing all of it,” Winebrenner said. “You just have to keep focused and know (the goals) are going to come at some time.”
The barrage midway through the second half allowed Park Hill to substitute late and enjoy a comfortable victory after a string of tight finishes.
Park Hill South stayed compact in defense until the 53rd minute when a diagonal ball from Trojans junior right back Chais Wright fell to Sackuvich, who finished with a shot across the face of goal and into the side netting for a 1-0 lead. The advantaged doubled six minutes later when Walls — their junior leading scorer — worked from left to right outside of the box before firing a right-footed shot past Panthers senior goalkeeper Brooke Montgomery.
The third goal came with a good bounce when Gay, a sophomore reserve, knocked a looping volley from 19 yards out off of her knee and over Montgomery’s head in the 66th minute.
“Once the first goal went in, we could take a deep breath and they couldn’t pack it in at the back anymore,” Winebrenner said.
Park Hill dominated the chances from the outset but received a feisty standoff in the only rivalry matchup between the two teams this season.
In the 11th minute, Walls scuffed a left-footed shot wide at the end of a nifty 1-2 with Winebrenner, who mishit a wide-open, one-time shot on the back post off of a Park Hill free kick chance two minutes later. Montgomery then made a series of saves — coming off her line to deflect away a shot from Trojans freshman Alyssa Ramos and punching away a 23-yard shot from freshman midfielder Dragan Andonovski for the two best — to keep the match scoreless.
Park Hill South nearly took a lead against the run of play in the 31st minute.
Kallen Mazeitis, a senior moved to center back in wake of a season-ending injury to freshman Aubree Koren, lofted a free kick from the left nearly 45 yards out that turned into an unorthodox shot. Staring directly into the late-evening sun, Park Hill junior goalkeeper Kelbey Emerson went high to push the ball off the crossbar and then collect the carom for the first of her three saves — and easily the toughest.
“It was a complete guess. I was hoping it was going there and that I timed it right,” said Emerson, who recorded her seventh clean sheet of the season. “I was trying to figure out where it was going (off the bar).”
Sackuvich (shot straight at Montgomery) and sophomore Sarah Hibbeler (shot just wide right after a lengthy run) provided Park Hill’s first two chances of the second half. The Trojans finally broke through on the well-timed connection between Sackuvich and Wright.
Park Hill South missed a breakaway chance moments later while down 1-0 but junior Ryanne Serrone couldn’t keep her feet to get off a shot. Coming off back-to-back shutout losses (7-0 at Liberty North and 3-0 at Lee’s Summit North), the Panthers again showed glimpses of promise but suffered another defeat against top competition with the Class 4 District 15 tournament upcoming.
“We’re doing what we have to do to be competitive with the top-level teams,” said veteran coach Joe Toigo, who has Park Hill South seeded third and facing a third matchup with Liberty in the district semifinal Tuesday, May 16. “But in the playoffs, can we do it for 80 minutes? We played a really good half or so against Lee’s Summit North, a really good half or so against Park Hill, but the game is 80 minutes. It’s not 56; it’s not 40, so we’ve just got to keep working.”
Winebrenner didn’t end up factoring in the scoring for Park Hill, which has now played in 13 games decided by one goal or ending in a draw this year.
However, the defensive stability she provides — already having been a three-time all-state performer surely headed for a fourth — often can’t be measured. The Trojans were again without sophomore Ayana Weissenfluh with Sackuvich, Gay, Ramos and Karli Petrillo all receiving additional minutes in a talented but rebuilding lineup looking to continue the momentum from back-to-back Class 4 quarterfinal runs.
“(Winebrenner) is a special player — no other way of saying it,” Park Hill coach Brandt Bell said. “She does a lot of things very well, and she can provide us different options, different looks. But she’s a team player first and foremost, and that’s one of the greatest things about her.
“She cares more about wins and losses than anything else.”
Lee’s Summit North 1, Park Hill 0
The Broncos used a first half goal to wrap up the Suburban Conference Gold Division title in the most recent one-goal game for the Trojans.
Lee’s Summit North took an early lead and held on for the season sweep. Park Hill dropped to 13-6-2 and 7-4 in league play entering the regular season finale at Raymore-Peculiar scheduled for Thursday, May 11. The Trojans will have the top seed in Class 4 District 16 and open play at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, May 16 against St. Joseph Central at North Kansas City District Activities Complex in Kansas City, Mo.
Park Hill 2, Blue Springs South 1
Walls scored twice late to help the Trojans earn a win in yet another tight matchup.
Park Hill has played 11 games decided by one goal in addition to two draws. The Trojans temporarily improved to 6-4 in one-goal decisions thanks to the late heroics Thursday, May 4 in Blue Springs, Mo., reversing the result of some recent disappointing losses.
Blue Springs South took the 1-0 lead in the 60th minute, hoping to earn a split of Gold Division matchups between the two teams.
Walls scored in the 70th minute and then again in the 79th minute with only about 90 seconds to go. On the first goal, Emerson sent a long punt down the field, and Walls chased the ball down, shielded a defender and turned to score.
Later on, Winebrenner came forward and sent a low cross in from the left, allowing Walls to hammer in the winner.
After the loss to Lee’s Summit North, Park Hill now sits at 6-5 in one-goal games.