Replacing a talented senior class is never easy for any soccer team. Replacing one of the most prolific goal scorers this area has ever seen makes it even harder.
Such is the challenge Todd Krey faces at Lee’s Summit West. He knew going into this season that he and the Titans would need a little patience as this team comes together.
And even after the Titans began the season with three losses in last week’s Tiger/Bronco/Titan Soccer Classic, Krey is far from losing that patience.
“We’re not one for moral victories but I think we’ve progressively played stronger, better,” Krey said after the Titans fell to Raymore-Peculiar 2-0 March 28 on their home field in their final tournament game. “I think today was by far the most physical we played and aggressive. I felt we really limited Ray-Pec’s opportunities controlling the ball.”
Krey faces the difficult task of replacing the nucleus of a team that went 23-3-2 last season and advanced to the Class 3 quarterfinals. Their biggest hole he has to fill belonged to forward Jayice Johnson, who scored 66 goals last year and 195 for her career before moving on to Nebraska.
“That’s been our big challenge this year, trying to find that person or those people that will have the ability to score for us,” Krey said. “We lost a lot of goals from last year with those seniors. We have several girls that are capable of finishing, we just have to get them physically and, even more so, mentally ready to do it.”
But Krey feels the Titans are close to finding those replacements, even if their record doesn’t show it yet.
“We knew it would be girls finding their roles, find out who’s going to be able to step up and finish,” Krey said. “But they’ve been working real hard. I can’t complain about what I’ve seen so far.”
West gave up both goals against Ray-Pec in the first half. Kayla Looney struck first for the Panthers when she knocked in a ball that slipped the grasp of Titans goalie Lexie Martin with 21 minutes, 52 seconds left in the half. The second one came with 3:10 left, when Keeley Braun charged in from the right side of the goalie box and shot into a wide-open goal.
“They scored two goals off a couple of mistakes on our part in the first half, but I was real pleased with the way we played in the second half,” Krey said. “We had some opportunities.”
Problem was, West couldn’t take advantage of them. The Titans pushed the ball forward and created several shots in the second half but none of them made it into the net. At least three banged off the crossbar.
Lee’s Summit won the tournament championship with a 2-0-1 record and a lower goal differential than second-place Jefferson City. The Tigers beat Park Hill South 2-0, Raytown 8-0 and tied Jefferson City 1-1.
Peyton Seymour led the Tigers with five goals, three of them against Raytown on a cold and rainy night. Goalkeeper Lexi Gochnauer recorded 2 shutouts.
“The girls played well all week,” Lee’s Summit coach David Wiebenga said. “I was excited about the progress we made throughout the week.”
Lee’s Summit North finished the tournament with two ties and one loss. The Broncos tied Kearney 1-1 and Columbia Hickman 0-0 and lost to Park Hill 1-0.