Platte County continually showed depth this season out of opportunity while piling up wins by convincing margins. On Thursday, the Pirates went deep down the roster out of necessity and delivered again in a 5-0 victory over Grandview at Pirate Stadium.
On what should have been a bittersweet night to celebrate, Platte County played without senior Joseph Ibarra, junior Felix Victore and sophomores Ahoy Victore and AJ Schrick due to COVID-19 protocols. In addition, starting senior midfielder Calvin Forrester (illness) was absent due to illness, while starting senior midfielder Nathan Macaluso missed his first game since breaking his foot two days earlier in a blowout of Ruskin.
Platte County played without four starters and two key reserves, while also honoring the 12 seniors in a large class that have the Pirates in possession to lock up a Suburban Conference Blue Division title and push for a strong postseason run starting with a difficult Class 3 District 8 field.
“It wasn’t scary. I had confidence in our guys we were going to put in there,” Platte County coach Ashyln Brantley. “I think they’ve stepped up in the past, and they took it tonight, as well. They played in some positions they may not have played in this season, but I tried to match them up as best I could in the right places. I think they did well.”
With a configured starting lineup including senior midfielders Jake Kingery, Cody Green and Tyler Bean plus sophomore Connor Currence, Platte County started slowly before receiving a jolt with a goal before halftime. Pirates sophomore forward Gavin Nichols started a lightning quick sequence with a ball into the middle and sophomore reserve Josh Nelson nodded the ball right into Bean’s path.
Bean took a couple of touches before firing low with his right foot and watching the shot ping into the net off the left post while a Grandview defender took him to the ground with a tackle from behind. The 36th minute goal put Platte County into a deserved 1-0 lead.
“Earlier in the game, Gavin told me to, on the opposite side of the field, just be pushed up and be ready for a quick switch,” Bean said. “So I saw he had the ball. He didn’t have any options, so I started moving up, made eye contact. He crossed it over and then Josh actually perfect tip right over the head, right to me, got it on my foot, got a shot off real quick.
“I actually got the shot off right as I started going down. He fouled me from the back so just glad that went in.”
Moments after the opener, a corner from Bean on the right set up another nervous moment for Grandview.
The ball pinged around the and eventually fell to senior forward Palmer Boekhout, who fired in a shot from 17 yards out that a Bulldogs defender blocked. Nichols eventually settled and fired wide from long range, and Platte County settled for a 1-0 lead at halftime. The Pirates carried the momentum out of the break and bagged three goals in a span of three minutes early in the second half.
In the 47th minute, Kingery sent an inviting cross in from the right, and Boekhout drove a one-time shot from in close into the ground. The ball bounced up and over the goalkeeper’s head to make it 2-0.
A minute later, Grandview’s goalkeeper failed to pick up a ball inadvertently played back to him, and Boekhout stole possession on the miscommunication and tapped into an empty net for a three-goal lead.
“After that first goal, I felt like we really got going and we started moving the ball more quickly in the second half,” Bean said. “We decided coming into that second half with a lot of energy after that first goal. We started pressuring more; we started being more confident on the ball and that’s what led to those quick goals from Palmer.”
In the 49th minute, Platte County senior left defender Sawyer Allen came up to take a throw-in, and the Grandview goalkeeper came out off of his line. Allen used the opportunity to use one of his long throws to create some havoc. The Bulldogs initially cleared but only as far as Currence at the edge of the box, and he fired the ball into the net with the goalkeeper out of position to make it 4-0.
Allen didn’t earn the assist but continued to provide opportunities out of throw-ins in the attacking half.
“It’s like a corner kick, and those are scoring opportunities for us,” Brantley said. “If we can get someone in (the box), I’ll take Sawyer’s throws any time.”
Platte County continued to hold its ground with Allen, senior central defender Isaac Havemeier and senior right defender Spencer Hay holding solid in the back. The Pirates even put senior goalkeeper Patrick Sullivan, who made one save in the first half, in the field as a forward for long periods of the second half while junior goalkeeper Sam Hernandez made one save to maintain the clean sheet.
Sullivan, who never played soccer until his sophomore year, didn’t come up with a goal despite the efforts and encouragement of his teammates on the field and bench.
Nelson ended up providing the capper for Platte County in the 73rd minute, collecting a blocked shot and calmly putting home the rebound to make it 5-0. The score held and provided a solid if not mentally challenging result for midfielder Luke Bunge, senior forward Mitchell Kelley and the rest of the seniors who were able to play, spent the night on the sideline watching or waited for news from home.
“It’s really unfortunate we were missing six people,” Bean said, “… but glad that we could all step up and make this happen.”
Platte County came back Friday minus key pieces and traveled to Raytown South to play the final 36 minutes of a previously scoreless Blue Division game previously suspended due to inclement weather almost exactly a month earlier. Sullivan held the clean sheet in the Pirates’ 16th shutout of the season, and Bean again provided the winner in what ended up a 1-0 victory played out over a 30-day period.
The shutout total includes six straight in the most recently completed games.
Carrying a seven-game win streak, Platte County (17-2, 10-0 Blue Division) now faces a bit of uncertainty in the final week of the regular season. The Pirates host Smithville (17-5) in the return match of the critical conference series between the two. The Warriors have won 10 of their past 11 with the lone loss coming in the first matchup between the two when Forrester’s goal in double overtime delivered a 1-0 win in dramatic fashion.
Platte County likely wraps up an outright Blue Division title with a win ahead of the regular season finale at Winnetonka on Tuesday. A loss would likely mean the Pirates share the crown with the Warriors.
“Tonight just gives us hope,” Bean said. “To be able to come out tonight and come out with a win means a lot. It gives us hope. We just want to come out on Monday against Smithville really quickly, energized and win.”
There will be little time to rest with the Class 3 District 8 openers scheduled for Saturday, October 30 at Pirate Stadium. Platte County earned the No. 2 seed behind Pembroke Hill with the Pirates opening against No. 7 seed Kansas City East. The winner advances to the semifinal against either third-seeded Smithville or sixth-seeded Kearney.
The eight-team District 8 field includes six teams with winning records plus East at .500 (7-7-2).
Platte County 3, Ruskin 0
At full strength two days earlier at Pirate Stadium, the Pirates peppered the goal with 17 shots but didn’t seal the win until the closing minutes.
Havemeier converted a penalty kick in the 76th minutes to make it 3-0 and finally put away Ruskin. Sullivan didn’t have a save in the shutout, but he protected a 1-0 lead for more than 40 minutes and a 2-0 advantage for 27 minutes more.
Platte County took a 1-0 lead in the second minute when Boekhout slotted home on an assist from Forrester. Currence, who totaled four shots by himself, slotted in a rebound off of throw-in the 49th minute to make it 2-0. The Pirates were unable to create any goals off of six free kicks and 10 corner kicks but finally added to the lead on Havemeier’s penalty in the closing minutes.