RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Park Hill coach Brandt Bell walked over and put his arm around Jeremy McElduff.
“We might get you one of these times,” he playfully told St. Teresa’s Academy’s coach.
Just not this time around.
St. Teresa’s Academy scored back-to-back goals in a span of 3 minutes late in the second half, stealing a 2-1 victory Wednesday, April 12 at Park Hill District Soccer Complex. The Stars won their sixth matchup in three years with Park Hill, which suffered another agonizing defeat to a chief nemesis.
After a lackluster first half, Park Hill seemed to find the energy needed to finally end the string of losses.
Alison Walls fired a shot just wide in the 44th minute after a deflected pass fell perfectly to the Trojans’ junior forward. A minute later, she forced St. Teresa’s goalkeeper Alexis Batliner into her first save, and sophomore midfielder Sarah Hibbeler forced a second save moments later.
In the 48th minute, Walls fired a shot directly at Batliner, who tipped the effort over the bar.
“It was popping. Things were going really well to start the second half,” Bell said.
Pushing the action, Park Hill finally broke through in the 52nd minute.
Trojans freshman midfielder Dragana Andonovski dropped a short pass to Hibbeler, who worked around a pair of defenders before she hit a sliding right-footed shot from 17 yards out. The effort crossed up Batliner, rolling into the left-side of the net for the opening goal — the Trojans’ third in the last six matchups with the Stars.
In the 60th minute, Hibbeler nearly doubled her scoring count but shot wide on a semi-breakaway.
That turned out to be Park Hill’s final good attempt on goal. St. Teresa’s Academy — last year’s Class 4 state champion — started pushing the action, and Trojans junior goalkeeper Kelbey Emerson made a sprawling save to her left, punching away a sure goal on Lily Farkas’ shot in the 74th minute.
A minute later, Farkas buried a rebound for the equalizer on a flood of offense into Park Hill’s box.
St. Teresa’s kept pressing and scored the winner in the 76th minute. Elexa Pierson broke down the left side before her pass trickled into the middle for Tess Rellihan to bury into an open net.
Emerson finished with seven saves but had no chance on the two late goals.
“Kelbey had a phenomenal game,” Bell said. “Neither one of those goals has anything to do with her play. We gave up on two plays and hung our goalie out to dry. She kept us in the game for a long time.”
Park Hill absorbed a ton of pressure in the first half and failed to record a shot on goal until after halftime.
St. Teresa’s, which beat Park Hill in the Class 4 quarterfinals each of the past two seasons, came close with a chipped shot over a vacated goal in the fourth minute, and Park Hill senior defender Jenna Winebrenner — already a three-time all-state pick — headed a ball off the line in the 12th minute.
Emerson also watched a hard right-footed shot from Reagan Shatto ping hard off of the near post in the 20th minute.
Park Hill only produced one half chance on a Walls 1-on-4 breakaway late in the first half. The momentum didn’t shift until after the Trojans met at halftime, and the improved play only lasted about 25 minutes before Hibbeler (left ankle) and sophomore midfielder Ayana Weissenfluh (right leg) left in the final minutes due to injury.
“You have to finish the game. We didn’t,” Bell said. “It was good to kind of survive that onslaught in the first half and to be no worse for the wear on the scoreboard. And then to come out and really take over the game for the first 10 or 15 minutes of the second half, it’s very positive to know that’s possible, but it’s got to be consistent.
“It’s got to be for 40 minutes, for 80 minutes — not just five minutes here or 10 minutes there.”
The loss dropped Park Hill to 6-3-2 on the season, still yet to win more than two in a row at any point.
An increasingly difficult schedule coincided with the Trojans move to the Suburban Conference Gold Division — the conference’s largest tier. The highlights have included a golden goal upset of Lee’s Summit and a dominating 5-1 win against Class 3 power Visitation Academy during a 1-1 trip to the Parkway Showcase.
Park Hill also ended up with draws against Staley and Liberty, and the Trojans have scored more than two goals just three times. The tough start comes after winning 65 games combined the previous season.
Bell’s lineup still shows promise with sophomores Mackenzie Sackuvich, Hibbeler and Weissenfluh factoring in the attack, sophomore Aleece Noble pairing with Winebrenner in the center of defense and freshmen Grace Wineinger and Andonovski providing depth in the midfield.
Park Hill lost six total from last season, including three all-state players.
“We’re not quite as complete of a team as last year,” Bell said. “We have some fantastic individuals, but getting everybody on the same page — completely — hasn’t quite happened yet. Getting everybody pulling the same direction hasn’t happened consistently enough.
“There’s a lot of pieces on the board. We just have to get them playing together.”
Park Hill 4, Liberty 1
The Trojans won their second matchup of the season with the Blue Jays behind goals for Kylie Aulgur, Meg Feeley, Sackuvich and Weissenfluh.
After a 0-0 draw between the two in the Lee’s Summit Tournament to start the season, Park Hill dominated this matchup between former division foes. Emerson also stopped a penalty kick during the matchup.
Park Hill 2, Blue Springs South 1
The Trojans scored twice off corner kicks — once in each half — for a Suburban Conference Gold Division win Tuesday, April 11 at Park Hill District Soccer Complex in Riverside, Mo.
Chais Wright, a junior right back, assisted on the first. Late in the first half, her corner kick found Walls on the back post for a tap-in goal. Sackuvich scored the second goal, redirecting a shot from Andonovski after she fired a low left-footed shot off of another Wright corner.
Park Hill improved to 3-1 in league play entering a Tuesday, April 18 matchup with Raymore-Peculiar. The result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline.
Park Hill South 6, St. Joseph Central 0
The Panthers scored five in the second half to pull away for a Suburban Conference Red Division win Thursday, April 13 in St. Joseph, Mo.
Ryanne Serrone-Brown put up a hat trick in the first 15 minutes after halftime for Park Hill South, and Kallen Mazeitis finished with two goals and two assists. Mazeitis scored the opening goal in the 14th minute on a one-time shot into the side netting off of a pass from Marquese Oder.
Park Hill South (2-3 Red Division) doubled the lead on Serrone-Brown’s opener in the 41st minute, and she added her second on a through ball assist from Mazeitis 6 minutes later. Macie Bolger had the final goal for the Panthers off of Oder’s second assist.
Brooke Montgomery posted the shutout in goal for Park Hill South.
Blue Springs South Tournament
Blue Valley West 4, Park Hill South 0
The Panthers were shut out in the first of two tournament games.
Undefeated, Blue Valley West ended Park Hill South’s three-game winning streak. The Panthers (4-4) close the tournament Thursday, April 20 against host Blue Springs South.