With so much talent, Tigers can’t be complacent

dmcqueen@lsjournal.comMarch 15, 2017 

Kayla Deaver (center), who led Lee’s Summit in scoring last season, is one of four returning Tigers from last year’s 24-2 team who scored more than 15 goals.

FRED POESE — Special to the Journal

With four productive scorers back from a team that took third in the state last spring, Lee’s Summit coach Dave Wiebenga would seem to have little to worry about as he embarks on another girls soccer season.

But there is one thing that has Wiebenga a little worried: He fears the Tigers might be feeling a little too good about themselves.

“My top concern is complacency,” Wiebenga said. “That’s the No. 1 thing I’ve been talking to the girls about, is them understanding that just because we’ve done what we’ve done the last couple of years doesn’t mean we’re going to do it again.”

The last couple of years have ended with Lee’s Summit in the Class 4 state tournament, with last year’s team whipping Cor Jesu Academy 4-1 in the third-place game to cap a 24-2 season. And with the top four goal-scorers back from that squad, the Tigers look like a team with more than enough firepower to make it back again.

That’s what has Wiebenga so concerned. Everyone knows who the Tigers’ top players will be and what they can do, so Wiebenga knows they’ll have to be even better this year.

“We’re excited about the pieces we’ve got back. Why wouldn’t you be?” Wiebenga said. “They’ve got to be smarter, they’ve got to be a little more creative, be more deceptive because everybody knows them.”

That includes junior midfielder Kayla Deaver, who led Lee’s Summit with 21 goals and 15 assists last season. Deaver’s speed and agility made her the Tigers’ best creator around the goal, and Wiebenga expects her to lead the team’s attack again this season.

“She’s definitely a very dynamic player,” Wiebenga said. “She’ll do her role again this year. She’s showing more and more maturity; we’re just trying to add bits and pieces to what she does.”

Deaver will have plenty of help again up front with Abby Groom, Izzy Shackelford and Amanda Sampson also back in the lineup. Groom, a senior forward, was second to Deaver in scoring with 18 goals and 15 assists last season. Shackelford, a junior midfielder, had 16 goals and 12 assists and Sampson, a junior midfielder, finished with 17 goals and 11 assists.

“We’re just trying to keep everybody healthy,” Wiebenga said. “We had a couple of them come in a little dinged from the club season and we’re just working them into it. We’re a work in progress right now.”

That’s especially true of the defense, which doesn’t return as many experienced players. Lee’s Summit needs a new goalkeeper to replace the graduated Dorothy Bertoncin, and sophomores Claire Wagner and Bailie Prier are contending for the job. Juniors Sara George and Sara Burnham, who play together on the same club team, will help man the back line along with fellow junior Shaylyn McKenna and seniors Paige Maxwell and Kate Mrachek.

“Those two have played in two final fours,” Wiebenga said of his senior defenders. “And Shaylyn has wheels all day and she can run forever. So we’re pretty happy.”

Wiebenga will be happy if Lee’s Summit can negotiate another rugged schedule, one made even more challenging with the addition of Park Hill to the Suburban Gold Conference. The road to another state tournament appearance, he said, will be much tougher.

But the Tigers are determined to get there, and even more determined to improve on their first two showings after falling in the semifinals both times. That should help put Wiebenga’s fears of complacency to rest.

“They’re still not happy,” Wiebenga said. ‘They want to get to that final and put themselves in the position to win that whole thing.”

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