KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kelbey Emerson admits most of the second half in the MSHSAA Soccer Class 4 finals was a blur.
Considering the Park Hill senior was peppered with 16 shots on goal it wouldn’t be hard to blame her, but she delivered countless clutch saves that were the difference as the Trojans picked up a 3-2 win against Suburban Conference Gold Division foe Lee’s Summit West.
The Titans, the highest ranked team left in the Class 4 semifinals, were coming off a victory against defending state champion Eureka and had already two wins in their pocket against Park Hill earlier this year.
Needless to say, Lee’s Summit West (23-2) was considered the favorite in the final game of the spring sports season at Swope Soccer Village.
Park Hill scored three first-half goals to take the lead and then Emerson stopped 10 shots in her final game in goal for the Trojans.
“We had a feeling at the beginning of the season that this year we had a team that could take it all the way,” said Emerson, who is done playing soccer and is set to attend Utah State in the fall. “It feels amazing to actually do it.
“I love that we will be an example for years to come and a goal will be to match us. We made history.”
The championship is the fourth ever on the girls side at Park Hill, matching three titles won by the volleyball program — the last in 1997.
The Trojans also became the fourth Kansas City area public school to win a title, following Liberty, Lee’s Summit West and Lee’s Summit North. This marked the first time though since a girls championship was formed in 1985 that two Kansas City teams met in the finals.
This was the second trip to the state semifinals for Park Hill, which took fourth place in 1993 in the old one-class system
Lee’s Summit West posted conference wins against Park Hill on March 20 (5-0) and May 1 (1-0), which was the last setback for the Trojans (22-3).
Park Hill closed the year on a 10-game winning streak, one shy of the season best of 11 in a row — which came after a 1-2 start.
“We knew they’d come in with a certain mindset so we would have to come in with a certain mindset,” said Ali Walls, the Park Hill senior that scored the game’s first goal in the 28th minute. “We knew we would have to score a lot and score early.
“It was a great lineup and it felt good to redeem ourselves.”
Wall’s initial marker was her team-leading 32nd goal.
“It was such a relief to score,” said Walls, who has signed with Division I Drake. “We can really do it. That was the moment. This could be ours if we took it.”
That marker gave the Trojans early momentum against the Titans, whose fan wore shirts with check marks next to conference, district and quarterfinals and an empty box for the state tournament. That box will go unchecked.
Park Hill got two goals in a 56-second span.
Freshman Jayden Dorrell scored in the 31st minute when she took a pass from Walls and dribbled toward the goal. She took a shot, but it deflected off goalkeeper Tori Hunter, but it stayed in play. Dorrell got the ball in front of the goal and snuck a shot past two defenders, the last line of defense with Hunter lying on the ground.
After the restart, junior Ayana Weissenfluh sent a rock from about 25 yards out to beat Hunter to her right and make it 3-0.
Park Hill had an eight to five advantage in shots in the first 40 minutes, with two of Lee’s Summit West’s coming in the final minute.
That was a preview of the bevy of shots Emerson would face in the second half — 16.
“It felt like 40,” Park Hill coach Brandt Bell said when asked if he knew how many attempts the Titans had in the final 40 minutes. “She just made save after save and she’s been doing it for four years. We knew they would come with pressure and would create show. We expected Kelbey to be up for the challenge. She made a lot of really big saves.”
The Titans, whose only loss in the regular season loss came to St. Teresa’s Academy (who Park Hill beat in the quarterfinals) got on the board in the 51st minute when Grace Heenan scored.
Two minutes later, a yellow card on Park Hill gave the Titans a free kick from 30 yards out and Carsyn Overin got it into the top right-hand corner of the goal, making it 3-2.
Ten minutes later, a second yellow card led to another free kick. This one also sailed toward the top of the goal, but Emerson jumped and batted it over the top of the crossbar.
Lee’s Summit West had five more chances in the final 14 minutes but Emerson stopped them all.
“I had complete faith we could do it,” she said. “From 5-0 to 1-0 and in the last five minutes of that, I knew could pull it out. We did that.”
The Trojans played with Dragana Andonovski and Alyssa Ramos in the first meeting, where the Titans scored all five goals in a 15-minute span in the second half. A Taylor Reid goal in the 75th minute in the second meeting was the difference in the second meeting.
Park Hill 1, Jackson 0, OT
Sophomore Alyssa Ramos entered the state tournament with only one goal on the season, but it was a big one.
Her tally in the quarterfinal game was the first of two goals the Trojans scored against St. Teresa’s Academy and helped stop a three-year quarterfinal losing skid.
Goal No. 2 sent the Trojans to the Class 4 title game.
Ramos scored the game-winning goal against the Indians in the 85th minute of Friday’s semifinal game.
The Trojans had three shots on goal in the first four minutes of extra time, but Ramos’ shot that sailed diagonally in the goalie box sailed by Emily Hermann, who had stopped six shots up until that point.
Ali Walls had the assist, her ninth of the year, on the game-winner.
“It was really close,” Ramos said. “We were struggling, but we got it together.”
The Trojans dominated the game in terms of attacking, outshooting the southeast Missouri school by six overall. In overtime, the Indians (19-6) didn’t get a shot off against Emerson, who pitched her 14th shutout of the season.
The game was delayed by an hour after Lee’s Summit West and Eureka went into two overtime periods and then needed five penalty kicks to decide who would advance to the finals. Incidentally, the second day of the state finals was delayed after an early morning storm knocked out power to the Swope Park Rangers’ complex.
After 80 minutes, it looked like the Trojans and Indians were falling right in line with how the first Class 4 semifinal went.
“You don’t want to go to penalty kicks, it is a coin flip,” Park Hill coach Brandt Bell said. “You can control a lot more in the run of play than you can in penalties. We want to play our game and create opportunities besides relying on Kelbey stopping shots or us being precise (with kicks)”