SMITHTON — Smithton’s soccer team, fielding a team of all returning members save for one freshman, faced its toughest challenge of the young season at its home soccer tournament.
Northeast Kansas City scored three goals before halftime during a 5-0 result Wednesday against the home Tigers at the Smithton Soccer Tournament.
The Tigers (2-2) posed its most serious threats late in the second half, with senior Blane Staus launching a shot on goal in the final seconds of the match.
“We did improve getting more opportunities in the second half,” said Smithton soccer coach Sean Hutchinson. “That was a plus. Not the outcome we wanted, but we did have improvement in the second half.”
Smithton continues 6:30 p.m. Friday hosting Iberia. The Tigers started the tournament Monday with a 3-2 victory over Knob Noster. Smithton senior Justin Parker scored twice, including the go-ahead goal, and junior Aaron Douglas converted a penalty kick for the first goal of the match.
Tigers freshman Braedon Cairer is the lone new face on the varsity roster, and has already scored a goal.
“He has really helped us offensively,” Hutchinson said. “That’s his game.”
Hutchinson said returning much of the roster helped the Tigers return to practice in stride and refine their approach from last season, which garnered a 7-9 record.
“They know my playing style. They know what to expect from me,” Hutchinson said. “We could just move on into things.”
Northeast, which has played for a district title in two of the last three seasons, opened the Smithton Soccer Tournament with a 7-1 victory against Iberia. They represented the strongest test so far for Smithton’s back line and senior goalkeeper Leyton Shireman.
“We haven’t had a lot of people really test us this year,” Hutchinson said. “They’re not used to it. So, for being put under fire for the very first time, they didn’t do a terrible job. But it is a learning experience.”
After the tournament, Smithton travels to La Monte 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Alex Agueros can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @abagueros2.