On the brink of elimination, Platte County found the goal needed to keep the season alive off of a corner kick.
Seven minutes into overtime, the winner came on the same scenario. The Pirates scored twice in a span of 13 minutes against Smithville to score a comeback 2-1 win Thursday, May 19 at Pirate Stadium in a Class 3 District 16 championship game which required extra time to decide.
The connections between senior midfielder Brooke Zenner and sophomore forward Destinee Smith delivered a seemingly improbable win against a stubborn rival. Beat up by injuries from the preseason all the way through the second half against the Warriors, Platte County stopped another nagging losing streak.
“As far as talent goes, they definitely have the talent and the ability to get it done,” Platte County coach Ashlyn Brantley said. “As far as our numbers and everything working against us this season with the injuries, that was a shocker. There were more this same week and today.
“They did what I asked them to do, and that’s all I can ask. They fought until the end.”
Smithville had beaten Platte County in five straight district title game matchups, and despite playing with three injured starters and losing another to a second half head injury, this group of Pirates continued to persevere – even after falling behind 1-0 late in the first half.
Platte County (15-6) goes back to the playoffs for the first time since making back-to-back trips in 2009 and 2010. The Pirates beat Smithville twice during the regular season in 2010, but the following season, the Warriors started a stretch of 10 straight wins vs. their Highway 92 rival, including the five straight district title games.
The overall losing streak ended earlier this season when after a goal-less draw, Platte County beat Smithville on penalty kicks. The celebration of the district title game victory included another sense of relief with Zenner (toe) and fellow midfielders Kianna Castro (leg) and Hanna Hall (knee) all playing at less than 100 percent, and freshman Madeline Donnelli leaving in the second half with a possible concussion.
Down to two substitutes for games late in the regular season, Platte County endured again, and after Smith tapped in her second goal, the celebration seemed to include an equal mixture of joy and relief.
“It was hard to realize, ‘Wow. We finally won districts.’ None of us have ever done that before,” Zenner said.
Castro and Zenner were both hurt in a 7-0 shutout of Benton in the first round of District 16 play.
In addition, Hall and Smith both missed time down the stretch for Platte County, adding to the frustration of losing defender Amanda Sullivan and midfielder Bailey Bologna to preseason knee injuries. The depleted Pirates were faced with more adversity – early and often vs. Smithville.
A wild scramble in front of Platte County’s goal in the 14th minute didn’t lead to a goal with goalkeeper Faith Burtchell (five saves) and the defense turning away three shots in a crowded penalty box. After controlling play early, the Pirates then endured consistent pressure until Lauren Fisher struck first for the Warriors.
The senior defender sent in free kick from 28 yards out on the right that bounced short of the far post and over a diving Burtchell for a 1-0 lead.
Early in the second half, Hall created Platte County’s best chance to that point, dribbling into a crease and sending in a cross after a Smithville defender fell down. Smith hit a one-time shot that sailed well over the bar.
Outside of that misfire, Platte County’s other shots forcing saves from Smithville goalkeeper Ann-Elise Bateman came from long free kick shots from junior defender Calle Boe, who took most of the dead ball restarts due to Zenner’s injury. The Pirates fortunes started to turn in the final 15 minutes.
In the 66th minute, a loose ball fell to junior midfielder Katana Audas, who sent in a looping shot from 19 yards out that Bateman tipped wide. Zenner and Audas then created back-to-back chances around the 73-minute mark with tantalizing crosses from the left that didn’t find a teammate.
The breakthrough came moments later when Zenner, eschewing fears of further injuring her toe, hit a corner kick from the left that Smith awkwardly volleyed on the fly, sending the ball into the net with her right foot. Tied at 1-1 after 74 minutes, the score held through the end of regulation.
“They kept fighting,” Brantley said. “Especially in regulation, the last 15 minutes, we were putting it on them, and they continued that into the overtime, which is what we needed to do – just create those restart opportunities, those corners. That’s what we want.”
Platte County got more of what it wanted in overtime.
Controlling play, the Pirates earned another corner kick – this one from the right – and Zenner played the ball to a similar spot. Smith again managed to knock the ball out of the air, which managed to elude the defenders and Bateman for the game-winner.
The scoring plays looked almost identical with the ball bouncing in and rolling up the back of the net.
“I was just trying to get it in (the box). Anyone,” Zenner said. “As long as they were making runs, if someone could get on the end of the ball, I would be happy for whoever got there.”
Smith ended up on the end of both, her two goals pushing Platte County into a Class 3 sectional matchup with Grain Valley (18-5). The two teams meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 24 at Pirate Stadium for the final competition held on the current playing surface, which will be removed and replaced this summer.