Trio of late goals hurt Camdenton in season-ending loss to Grain Valley
As the rain came pouring down at Bob Shore Stadium Tuesday afternoon, Grain Valley coach Tyler Nichol knew one goal may be all his team needed to earn a trip to the Class 3 state quarterfinals.
HIs players were happy to provide three of them and it was a trio of freshmen in Emma Thiessen, Annabelle Totta and Kylee Bragaw who put the ball in the back of the net in the final 20 minutes to give the Eagles a 3-0 win over Camdenton. In the midst of winning eight straight district titles, Grain Valley earned a spot amongst the final eight teams for the first time since 2016.
“At halftime, we talked about that final pass we were lacking. We had to find that one time to break though and the floodgates are going to open up, literally,” Nichol said as his team managed to play through wet conditions on a turf field. “Actually, when we scored the first goal it (rain) almost completely stopped for a minute. We knew that first one would give us that momentum and that is how it’s been.
“Those moments after scoring or conceding a goal are some of the most important minutes in a soccer match with the momentum swinging one way or the other. We’ve had a lot of success in those moments this year and it something we focused on.”
Trying to find ways to break through a packed Laker defense, Grain Valley managed to maintain most of the possession through the first half and push forward in the offensive third of the field. Among the six shots the Eagles put up, the best opportunity came with just under 22 minutes remaining when Totta played a cross into the box that found Thiessen who headed the ball off the right post.
It wouldn’t take too long for the freshman to find that next opportunity, though.
After a scoreless first half- and as if the turf was not wet and slippery enough already- the rain began to come down more intensely over the final 40 minutes. But, for a brief moment it let up and that is when Grain Valley made its move.
Senior Raena Childers found Thiessen, who drilled a 22-yard strike past the outstretched hands of Camdenton senior keeper Sydney Smith to the lower right corner, and put the Eagles up 1-0 with just over 19 minutes remaining.
“I’m just happy we got it done and got a goal. And, once we got one we got two more,” said Childers, a University of Kansas commit who has scored 106 goals in three seasons with Grain Valley. “Like coach said at halftime, once we get one we are going to get another and he was right. I’m just happy Emma got the touch and the shot.”
Then, as Camdenton started to open things up and tried to find ways to counter, the other freshmen added some insurance goals. Totta hit a shot from about 20 yards out that deflected off the hands of Smith and Bragaw finished a rebound near the top of the box off a corner kick. With 106 career goals to her name, Childers was happy to see her freshmen teammates get some credit on the scoresheet.
“I’m definitely blessed to play in this program, especially since I did not get to play my junior year,” the senior said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic that cancelled the 2020 season. “I was still able to get a tons of goals this year, but not just by myself. With the freshmen that came in, they definitely played a huge role in me getting to 106 goals.”
The Lakers did not go quietly and put together a few scoring opportunities near the end with the counter attack. However, Grain Valley sophomore keeper Camille Williams was willing to come off her line on a number of occasions and thwart any Camdenton attack to preserve her clean sheet. There were also a few set pieces towards the end where sophomore Ella Smith nearly finished a header that went off the post and junior Allison Johns volleyed a shot past Williams, but both were deemed offsides.
“We started to press a little bit and thew Zoe (Lockhert) forward from our cornerback position, which we like to do if we are in a close game or get down,” Camdenton coach Tyler Sevon noted. “Had a couple chances and it didn’t quite go our way, but we looked dangerous at times at the very end.”
Unfortunately for the Lakers, it came just a little too late as Grain Valley maintained pressure most of the night by being able to press forward and maintain some possession. Eventually, the Eagles broke through.
“We just came out and knew we were going to have to fight hard. We wanted to keep the game close, which we did for a long time until about 20 minutes left when we let that first one in,” Sevon stated. “We unraveled a little bit, but really proud of our girls. They fought really hard and it kind of got away from us, but we were where we wanted to be 60 minutes into the game.
“We were either going to go for it or just kind of burn out. We faded a little bit, but proud of our girls.”
Camdenton ends the season at 16-11 overall, but not without its first winning season since 2017 and first district championship since 2011. And, many players on the roster should be back with just a trio of seniors in Ariana Maples, Ella Demott and Smith graduating.
“We are still a really young group. We have three seniors and they leave this group with a great foundation for the future,” Sevon pointed out. “We are so proud of what they accomplished, but our future looks really bright. We were starting three freshmen on the backline, so we are looking forward to what we have in the years coming. They leave us with a great place to start for next year.”
Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-346-2132