LIBERTY — It had been seven years since the Liberty boys soccer team last swept the annual Liberty Kickoff Classic. Then this season happened.
The Blue Jays claimed the tournament title with a 3-0 record Aug. 31 through Sept. 5. To clinch its first Kickoff championship since 2012, Liberty edged Lee’s Summit North 2-1 in the title match on Thursday, Sept. 5, at Liberty Middle School.
“I’m pretty proud of the guys,” Blue Jays coach Thomas Rottjakob said. “I think we have a pretty good team. As far as acting like a family. The guys are playing for each other, and that’s the way you win.”
Gabe Cain scored the game-winning goal in the 64th minute off an assist from Alek Rottjakob. The goal came just three minutes after Lee’s Summit North knotted the score at 1-all.
“It was one of those games where I felt like we had better possession,” coach Rottjakob said. “We had more opportunities and we have to finish those. But I was really pleased that we got the game-winner.”
The Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead on a Broncos’ own goal in the 40th minute, moments after Brody Mueller put a free kick across the front of the goal.
Liberty defeated Park Hill 1-0 and Kansas City East 4-1 to reach the title match.
Kaden Rottjakob bagged the lone goal in the season opener against Park Hill, putting in a one-time strike off a Brody Mueller throw-in on Saturday, Aug. 31, at Liberty High School.
Mueller starred against KC East on Tuesday, Sept. 3, at the middle school, scoring a pair of goals and notching an assist. Bryson Gosch added a goal and an assist, while Noah Senthavy scored once.
A highlight on the first week of the season was the defense, which allowed just two goals in the first three matches.
“I’ve been pleased with the defense,” the coach said. “Drew Pflum is kind of our field general, he does a good job cleaning up any of the messes.”
Despite the tourney championship, the coach said he prefers to look at the bigger picture.
“We don’t focus on the wins and losses this early in the season,” he said. “We focus on style of play. We’re just trying to get better every day.”