KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Oak Park didn’t score on Park Hill in nearly 210 minutes of play this season – two full games worth of regulation and two different overtime scenarios.
Yet, a scoreless Class 4 District 16 championship match Thursday, Oct. 27 at North Kansas City District Activities Complex offered another avenue of victory to the No. 2 seed. Park Hill goalkeeper Stefan Derra made a pair of clutch saves in a penalty shootout, but Oak Park advanced to the playoffs thanks to three misses from the spot for the Trojans in the cruel five-round test of nerves.
Park Hill lamented the defeat together in the center circle after senior midfielder Paolo Murguia skied the final penalty high right, setting off Oak Park’s celebration.
“It’s a tough loss. It’s a bitter way to lose,” Park Hill coach Josh Marchbank said. “But you know, I think we could’ve played two more hours, and it still would’ve been zeroes.”
Both teams created sporadic opportunities during regulation and then the two 15-minute overtime halves, but unlike their first meeting of the season, there was no dramatic golden goal.
Back in late August, Park Hill senior defender Jackson Foutch scored on a free kick from 20 yards out in the 100th and final minute of the match in the waning seconds of the second of two 10-minute overtime halves. Instead, both coaches came up with a list of penalty kick takers, and Oak Park opted to put sophomore goalkeeper Alec Carson in net despite not playing a minute of the match.
Derra dropped straight down to stop Noah Studebaker’s attempt on the first kick of the shootout, and Park Hill’s Nico Bosmediano gave the Trojans the lead with a successful try. The Trojans missed three of their next four penalties with sophomore midfielder Damon Borrayo briefly leveling at 2-2.
Derra scooted left and made a kick save on Oak Park’s fourth try, but Foutch and Murguia missed back-to-back – first with a chance to take the lead back and then again with a chance to tie and extend the shootout.
“We said, ‘Stefan’s going to make a save,’” Marchbank said. “He made two for us. We said, ‘If he makes one, we’ll take care of the rest,’ and that just didn’t happen.”
Park Hill finished the season at 6-14-2 but held the top seed by virtue of head-to-head wins over Oak Park and Staley and their superior records.
For much of the first 40 minutes, the Trojans looked to hold seed with strong possession and the better of the chances. Bosmediano forced a save on a header in the fourth minute and went just wide from 19 yards out with a left-footed try in the 16th minute.
Derra didn’t make the first of his six saves until the 31st minute when he went low to comfortably save an Oak Park shot off of a Trojans turnover.
The first half culminated with Bosmediano on a breakaway in the 38th minute. He chipped the ball over Oak Park starting goalkeeper David Aguilar, but Studebaker tracked back in defense to clip the ball off the line and out of play before smashing into the goalpost.
“That was a really good opportunity,” Marchbank said, “and I feel like we played a really good first 25 minutes and created some good chances. In a game like this, you have to capitalize on one of those if you want to win.”
Park Hill didn’t end up with a better chance.
Andrew Rich, a senior reserve winger, provided good energy after halftime and hit a tantalizing shot from 16 yards out off a Bosmediano dropoff pass in the 60th minute. The ball ended up just going high. Four minutes later, Oak Park rattled Derra’s right post on a shot from Axxel Chazaro, and the Northmen’s increased pressure forced sophomore defender Aaron Simpson to head a shot over the goal and out of play in the 73rd minute.
The overtime periods were more mundane, leading to the shootout and eventually the end of a difficult season for Park Hill, which moved into the Suburban Conference Gold Division this season.
The Trojans struggled to find a consistent goalscorer, and despite the work of defenders Foutch, Simpson, Alec Goodwin and others, wins were also hard to come by. At one point, they lost nine straight but still battled back to reach the district championship game for a second straight year – both ending with losses to Oak Park.
“Not one person gave up, not one person,” Marchbank said. “We stayed a family and stayed a team right until the end.”