CHESTERFIELD • In postseason soccer, it is finish or be finished.
Luke Voeller and his Parkway Central teammates didn’t want to end up on the wrong side of that equation.
Thanks to some inspired defensive play, a pair of quick-strike goals and a dash of good fortune, the Colts aren’t finished yet after taking down Ladue 3-0 in a Class 3 sectional contest on Tuesday at Parkway Central.
“What goes through my mind is not so much revenge,” said Voeller, whose Colts lost to Ladue (15-12-1) 4-0 in early September, “But showing people that wasn’t who we are at the beginning of the season.”
Tuesday night was also about keeping the Colts' campaign alive.
Parkway Central (18-8-1) will host Fort Zumwalt South in a quarterfinal match Saturday afternoon with a berth in the final four at stake.
It is the Colts’ first quarterfinal appearance since a penalty-kick loss to eventual state champion St. Dominic in 2012.
Voeller got plenty of credit from his coach for keying the attack Tuesday. Even so, the Colts’ offense didn’t strike until the final 15 minutes, when junior Adam Burnett got a quick pass from Agustin Barcelona and found the corner of the net with 14 minutes, 11 seconds to play. It was Burnett's team-leading 19th goal of the season.
“That was pretty much off what we practice all the time, just sending the ball in and creating opportunities,” Voeller said. “That one was on the opposite side from me. Burnett and Goose (Barcelona), they’re both great players.”
It was just one goal, but coming so late in the contest gave it extra importance.
“They scored late enough in the game that we had to make changes and move some players around,” Ladue coach Dave Aronberg said. “Then they were able to hit us on a quick counter attack for their second (goal).”
Parkway Central junior Cam Dunne did those honors. From close range, he sent the ball high over the Ladue keeper into the netting just below the crossbar. It happened 86 seconds after the Colts’ first score.
Will Peacock finished off a two-on-one breakaway counter with seven minutes to go to cap the scoring.
The turnaround – from going 64 minutes without so much as a shot on goal to three quick scores – had been sudden, decisive and pleasing to Colts coach Brian Adam, who worried the Rams might hem his boys in all night.
“They (Ladue) pressed really well as a team,” Adam said. “They put it on your backs really, really well and don’t allow you much space anywhere. So what we had to do was find those pockets of space.”
Doing that meant resisting urges to keep blasting the ball down field to Ladue’s backs, who were proving efficient at sending it right back to their nimble midfielders, who could look for attack lanes.
“We talked about limiting their opportunities to go over the top on us,” said Adam. “We wanted to make them work the ball up the field, and that’s done through passing. When we passed, it made a big difference.”
Tuesday’s loss left Aronberg wondering what might have been. Two prime scoring chances slipped through the Rams' fingers early in the second half. First, a handball call on the Colts gave Ladue junior Grant Powell a penalty kick with 34:36 to play in regulation.
It went off the top of Parkway Central keeper Blake Seigel’s fingers, then struck the crossbar. No goal.
“When that ball hit the crossbar, it was pure joy,” Voeller said. “It was exhilarating. I can’t describe it.”
Four minutes later, Ladue’s Chris Sewing appeared to have scored the night’s first goal, but an offsides call doused the Rams’ celebration.
“Soccer’s a game of momentum,” Aronberg said. “We had two golden opportunities, two times we thought we were going to score. If we finish one of those, it’s probably a different game.”
Seasons need momentum too. Unfortunately, a barrage of forfeits and suspensions at midseason cut the heart out of Ladue’s 2017 campaign. Eight kids, many of them starters, were suspended for several games and six contests were forfeited, stemming from team policy violations during the KC Showcase Tournament at Belton High School.
The Ladue squad did well to rally back to the sectional finals, but still …
“What happened was a devastating thing for our team,” Aronberg said. “There’s no sugarcoating it. From a soccer perspective, that pretty much killed our season. From a life perspective, I’m hoping that was a really good lesson for a lot of kids, for our team and for other teams. There are things that are bigger than soccer.”