RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Park Hill’s players found themselves in a unique quandary. They needed to respond to a deficit Tuesday, May 24 at Park Hill District Soccer Complex.
After falling behind early, the Trojans drew level before halftime and then added two more in the second half of a 3-1 victory against Liberty — their fourth over the Blue Jays this season. Park Hill entered the playoffs having not allowed a goal in 10 Suburban Conference Red Division games, two against Liberty, and with shutouts in 12 straight and 18 of the past 19.
Yet, Liberty led 1-0 after 12 minutes.
“I think we were all a bit shocked,” Park Hill senior defender Jenna Winebrenner said. “We haven’t been scored on in a while. We had a good run of shutouts, but it’s just part of the game, gotta get past it.”
Park Hill answered 8 minutes later on a corner kick.
Winebrenner flicked the ball with her to sophomore forward Alison Walls, who volleyed in a chance to level the score. The tie held until the 54th minute when another corner kick resulted in Winebrenner deflecting a ball into the net to put the Trojans up 2-1.
“(Set pieces) have been a strength of ours, just going up and making something happen,” Park Hill coach Brandt Bell said. “Not necessarily is it diagrammed that way or did we want that specific thing to happen, it’s just making something out of the chances.”
Park Hill then increased the pressure, resulting in a few counterattack chances for the trailing underdogs.
Trojans goalkeeper Kelbey Emerson made a save on a free kick moments after the go-ahead goal, one of her five saves. The next flurry of chances all came against Liberty goalkeeper Annie Price, who made eight saves.
Sam Paulak fired high on a free kick from 20 yards out, and Price made back-to-back saves on shots from Walls and Ayana Weissenfluh, the second trickling past her and almost crossing the goal line.
Bella Catano, Park Hill’s senior attacking midfielder, forced another save in the 64th minute, which kept up the tension. The Trojans finally broke through in the 77th minute when Paulak dragged a shot on the ground across the goal.
Price deflected it, but Weissenfluh slid in to tap home the rebound for a 3-1 lead.
The win sets up another rematch for Park Hill (25-3) in a quarterfinal scheduled for Saturday, May 28 at Park Hill District Stadium. St. Teresa’s Academy advanced with a shutout of Lee’s Summit North, and the Stars (17-4) beat Park Hill in each of their two meetings this season, including erasing a 2-0 deficit in a 3-2 win back on April 7.
St. Teresa’s also beat Park Hill last year in quarterfinals, ending the Trojans’ season on the way to a state title.
“We’re so ready,” Winebrenner said of the rematch.
Class 2 District 16
Park Hill 4, Staley 0
Walls scored twice in the first half, and the Trojans rolled to a second straight district title Thursday, May 19 at Park Hill District Soccer Complex.
Park Hill dominated its two district matches, outscoring its two opponents 8-0. The Trojans were more dominant in the championship match with Walls volleying in a shot early and then adding a second off a cross from freshman Sarah Hibbeler.
Weissenfluh and Catano added goals in the second half.
In the District 16 opener, Chais Wright, Hibbeler, Paulak and Walls scored a goal each in a 4-0 shutout of Oak Park. Paulak added two assists and ended districts with three total.
Class 2 District 15
Liberty 2, Park Hill South 1
The Panthers lost the rubber match of the season series in a first round matchup Tuesday, May 17 in Liberty, Mo.
Liberty scored the game winner with 13 minutes to play, ending Park Hill South’s season. The Panthers finished 10-12 overall, including a 1-1 mark in Suburban Conference Red Division matchups with Liberty this season.
After missing several good opportunities early, Park Hill South managed to level the match 1-1 early in the second half. Kallen Mazeitis set up Meghan Jones, who fired an initial shot that was saved. Jones then knocked in her own rebound in the 45th minute.
The tie held until the 67th minute.
Liberty caught Park Hill South out of position on a corner kick. The Panthers pushed extra players up looking for the go-ahead goal. Instead, the Blue Jays countered with Shae Turner going on a 60-plus-yard run before passing off to Payton Tresler for a goal on a two-on-two breakaway.
Tresler scored the opener for Liberty in the 15th minute off of a corner kick. She headed in a third try at goal on the play to put the Blue Jays up 1-0.