District soccer crown goes to Titans

Special to the JournalMay 19, 2017 

With a 25 mile-an-hour wind blowing from one goal up the field to the other, possessing the ball on the ground, minimizing mistakes and taking advantage of the opponent’s defensive mistakes usually creates a winning formula.

Wednesday night at Bud Hertzog Stadium, Lee’s Summit West followed that to a 3-0 win over Lee’s Summit, and the Class 4, District 12 crown.

And for the first time since 2013, the Titans (16-5) advance to the state sectional round instead of the Tigers.

“We were just a little bit flat tonight,” Lee’s Summit head coach Dave Wiebenga said. “We just didn’t get the job done. It happens. We’ve had a lot of success the last three or four years. It just didn’t happen tonight. Lee’s Summit West played really well. They’ve got a great team.”

While not content to just sit back in a defensive shell battling into the wind, committing as many to the attack as defending, the Titans held on to a scoreless first half.

“Our girls are playing very confident,” said West head coach Shaun Owens. “We’ve played that way all season, and we kind of live and die by that. They wanted to go. As long as we stayed organized defensively, we were going to go, and it gave us opportunities.”

It didn’t take long for West to harness the advantage in the second half.

Not even two minutes after the break, Kara Privitera turned miscommunication on the Tigers’ back line into a goal.

Carsyn Overin cleared the ball out of the Titan defensive end past midfield, where two Tiger defenders went for the ball, but neither altered the ball’s direction. Privitera found herself all alone with Tiger keeper Bailie Prier, and beat her high inside the right post.

“Oh gosh, I was thinking, ‘Don’t mess this up,’” Privitera said. “And I knew I just had to take a deep breath and place it, and that’s what (I) did.”

Jillian Leetch doubled the Titan lead in the 44th minute, tapping in a cross from Kassidy Newsome. Newsome got to the end line on the right side and fired the ball hard across the turf.

The Tigers didn’t fold, possessing the ball and playing on the attack much of the rest of the half, but just could not put it together in the final third.

“I thought we played well in the second half,” Wiebenga said, “minus the brief five-minute span where we shot ourselves in the foot. Didn’t do what we needed to do. We had some opportunities where we could have finished. Kudos to them, they stuffed them out.”

In the 68th minute, Lexy Hawkins cleared the ball into the Titan half for Kayla Deaver to run onto, but Deaver’s shot from distance did not trouble Tori Hunter in the West goal. Deaver almost got another chance a few minutes later, but Hunter beat her out to the ball near the top of the penalty area.

“The second half after we got up two goals, we just sat back,” Owens said. “We just kept a small shape and made it difficult for them to connect beyond our half field. We let them come into our half, and that’s when we decided to defend.”

Grace Heenan put the game out of reach in the 79th minute, converting a Tiger turnover into a goal slotted inside the left post.

The best opportunity to score for the Tigers came near the end of the first half with the wind at their backs.

Izzy Shackelford beat out Hunter to a cross, but her shot bounced wide of the far post in the 38th minute.

From the left side, Amanda Sampson sent the ball in, forcing Hunter to swat the ball away in the opening minutes.

Other than that, Lee’s Summit couldn’t take advantage of the wind. For a long stretch in the first half, the Tigers couldn’t find teammates’ feet, instead dumping it long for Hunter to collect in her box.

The Tigers did press the West back line to create a couple of turnovers, but couldn’t convert. The Lee’s Summit offense ran through Abby Groom much of the half, who held the ball up with her back to the goal, and played one-touch passes, but no other shot troubled Hunter.

“Abby’s been a go-to player for us the last two, three years,” Wiebenga said, “playing her into feet and trying to move off. We just didn’t have it tonight. We just didn’t get the goals we needed to win. That’s been a story for us against West all year.”

The Tigers, who reached the Class 4 state tournament the last two years, end their season at 10-8.

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