Panthers poised for big soccer season

dmcqueen@demo-mo.comApril 7, 2014 

It’s never good to put too much emphasis on one soccer game, especially when there are still so many left to be played.

But after beating Lee’s Summit West 2-0 March 28 in its final game at last week’s Tiger/Bronco/Titan Classic in Lee’s Summit, the Raymore-Peculiar girls believe they are on their way to something big.

Not only did the Panthers knock off one of the state’s more powerful soccer programs on its home turf, but they did so in convincing fashion.

“It was a good confidence boost,” Ray-Pec junior Keeley Braun said. “I think we’re going to have a strong season.”

Ray-Pec is off to a strong start after going 2-1 in the tournament. And they got off to a strong start against Lee’s Summit West, scoring two first half goals and withstanding the Titans’ turned up offensive pressure in the second half.

“I thought they put a lot of things together,” said Ray-Pec assistant coach Mike Williams, who was filling in for head coach Jason Watermann. “I thought they played great as a team. With the numbers coming in and out I think everyone worked hard and played well together.”

That teamwork helped Kayla Looney score Ray-Pec’s first goal with 21 minutes, 52 seconds left in the half. The Titans’ goalie appeared to have the ball, but Looney was able to knock it in after it slipped out of the goalie’s hands.

“The first goal was based on their effort,” Williams said. “They were attacking the goal, they were following everything up.”

Braun scored the Panthers’ second goal with 3:10 to go in the half, charging in from the right side of the penalty box to find a wide-open net.

Once (the goalie) came out, I really didn’t know what to do,” Braun said. “I could slide or I could just hit it. So I was, OK, I’ll just hit it.”

Lee’s Summit West, which is struggling early to replace a talented senior class from last season’s 23-3-2 Class 3 state quarterfinalists, put more pressure on the Panthers in the second half but couldn’t convert on several scoring opportunities. The Titans had at least three shots bounce off the crossbar, helping Ray-Pec goalie Melanie Boyd preserve the shutout.

And let the Panthers start thinking big.

“This early in the year the girls are coming together really well,” Williams said. “They have the potential to do great things this year.”

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