A pair of first-half goals provided all Platte County needed Tuesday in perhaps the biggest win in a promising undefeated start to the season.
A senior midfielder, Luke Bunge opened the scoring inside of 10 minutes, and senior forward Palmer Boekhout doubled the Pirates lead before halftime. They defended from there and went on to a 3-0 shutout of visiting Guadalupe Centers at Pirate Stadium.
Platte County improved to 6-0 overall and checked in at No. 10 in the Missouri State High School Soccer Coaches Association’s Class 3 power poll, which use a formula to determine the rankings, when released the same day and without the win over Guadalupe Centers factored in. The Aztecs , ironically, entered undefeated and ranked No. 6 in the same poll, which will obviously undergo a shakeup before the next edition.
“We were able to kind of control the game,” Bunge said. “We kind of knew what they had and we knew what we are working with, obviously. We played really well. I loved it. It was a great game for us to win.”
Platte County (Class 3 runnerup) and Guadalupe Centers (Class 2 champion) were both in state title games in 2019, but this marked the first meeting between the two schools.
Now looking to return to the form of two years ago, Platte County spent the early part of the first half figuring out the pace of play but found the offense first. Bunge’s unassisted goal in the ninth minute made it 1-0, and the Pirates started to dominate possession.
Bunge also provided the biggest highlight. Creating a turnover near midfield with aggressive play, he dribbled in before taking a low right-footed shot from 35 yards out to beat Guadalupe Centers’ wandering goalkeeper, who was awkwardly trying to return to his line after wandering too far upfield.
Platte County extended the lead to 2-0 midway through the first half on a set piece.
Isaac Havemeier, part of a senior trio in defense in the Pirates’ 3-5-3, took a free kick and sailed the ball toward the goal. A deflection off of a defender fell to Boekhout, who opportunistically finished in the 23rd minute.
Guadalupe Centers started attacking more in the second half and produced three shots on Platte County senior goalkeeper Patrick Sullivan in the first 7 minutes out of halftime. He ended up keeping a sixth cleansheet with the Pirates defense of Havemeier, Sawyer Allen and Spencer Hay yet to allow a goal this season.
“Another shutout for Patrick, which is great,” Bunge said. “That’s just a lot of momentum building there.”
Platte County nearly increased its lead with a scoring opportunity in the 58th minute when Guadalupe Centers’ goalkeeper parried a shot from Victore away. Victore collected the rebound for a shot toward a seemingly open goal, only for an Aztecs defender to recover and clear the ball of the line.
Guadalupe Centers created two scoring chances in the 65th minute and nearly cut the deficit in half and create some intrigue. The flurry included a give-and-go that set up a shot toward Sullivan, who dove to his left to make one of his seven saves.
“We definitely can’t give away those type of chances, and when we do, it’s nice to know you can count on your keeper to keep us out of the hole,” Platte County coach Ashlyn Brantley said. “If that goes in, it could’ve been a different game. It was a solid shot. We want to limit those kind of scoring chances.”
The physical game reached a crescendo in the 69th minute when a Guadalupe Centers player received a red card, forcing the Aztecs to play the remainder with 10 men.
To make matters worse, the foul occurred in the 18-yard box. Platte County senior midfielder Calvin Forrester took the penalty kick, which was saved. However, the rebound fell to Pirates sophomore forward Gavin Nichols, who slotted home in the left side of the goal to provide the final marker in the 3-0 win.
Platte County produced five shots total, and junior Nathan Macaluso’s final effort in the 76th minute went just wide. Guadalupe Centers outshot the Pirates and forced them to work from beginning to end.
“We adjusted to how they were playing,” Brantley said. “I think this was one of our quickest game we played. We came out trying to do a lot before we received the ball and that caused problems. Once we relaxed and got it on the ground and moved it, we played better. They are definitely a good team and we had to give everything we had.”
A day earlier, Platte County and Raytown South were scoreless at halftime of a Suburban Conference Blue Division game. A weather delay eventually forced postponement of the final 36 minutes of second half to a later date, still to be determined.
Platte County 1, Kearney 0, OT
The two rivals played to a scoreless 80 minutes last Thursday, but the Pirates quickly ended it in the first half of sudden-death extra time.
Forrester netted the game-winner 34 seconds into overtime for Platte County, which produced 10 shots in the win. Conversely, Sullivan made just one save on Kearney’s only shot on goal.
“It is always good to get a conference win, they are tough games and close games with Kearney and we will see them again,” Brantley said. “We can’t dwell on it too long. We did a good job of possession and keeping it all game. We created more chances just got to finish those chances.”
Platte County 2, St. Joseph Central 0
The Pirates received a pair of goals from Macaluso in the first half to pick up a win in St. Joseph on Thursday, Sept. 9 at The Den at Bode Middle School in St. Joseph. He scored off a loose ball situation in the 6th minute and then scored off a deflection in the 29th minute.
Platte County had 10 shots on goal in this game as well, and Sullivan made one save in the win.