KANSAS CITY — Caroline Kelly capped of her junior campaign with a four-goal afternoon, leading Kearney to a 4-1 win over Union in the Class 3 third-place game Saturday, June 1, at the Swope Soccer Village.
“It’s hard to come back from a loss you feel like you could have had and to fight back and win big time, it shows the pride and fight in the girls,” Kearney coach Amanda Hopkins said.
The junior got in on the goal-scoring action 21 minutes into the contest, working around her defender in the box, resulting in a foul and a penalty shot for Kelly.
“She beat the defender, (the defender) had no choice but to take her down and it happened to be in the box,” Hopkins said.
Kelly buried the kick in the right side of the goal for a 1-0 lead.
“Usually I aim for the left, but I always get scared when I do it like that. I was looking in the right corner so I kicked it right there,” she said.
The junior snagged her 39th goal of the season on a breakaway chance in the 33rd minute to push the Bulldog lead out to 2-0, where it stood until halftime on an assist from Abby Couch.
“When you can set the tone early and get one or two in, it defeats the other team,” Hopkins said. “We’ve been on that side of that and it’s hard to play back from.”
Union came out on the offensive in the second half, drawing a penalty kick eight minutes into the frame but Grace Weiss’ shot shanked wide right, keeping the shutout in tact.
Union ended Kearney’s shutout in the 57th minute with Emily Gaebe poking in a loose ball off a corner kick to have the Bulldogs lead to 2-1.
It took Kelly 75 seconds to produce Kearney’s answer, sending home a pass from Caysi Brown to push the Kearney lead back out to two goals.
“I attribute it to my team, they helped me get the goals,” Kelly said. “They were the ones helping me get the shots with the movement we had.”
Kelly capped off the afternoon with an unassisted goal in the 64th minute, sealing the third-place finish for the Bulldogs.
The junior finished with 11 shots, seven on goal in the contest.
“Her head was in it and she wanted it, wanted it bad,” Hopkins said. “And when she wants it, she get it. She worked her tail off today and it showed.”
Kearney keeper Mayson Behney made 10 saves on the day including a diving stop in the 21st minute that would have tied the game at 1-1.
The Bulldogs finish the year with a record of 21-3.
“I would have rather won it, but there are only two teams in any class that gets to end their season with a win, so we are one of those two and it feels good to end the season on a good note,” Hopkins said.