Ask him, and he’ll quote numbers without hesitation to support the value of throw-ins, free kicks and corners: Six boys soccer state championships in the 1990s —including a couple by Rockhurst — were won on goals scored off restarts.
Now Lawson can include a personal anecdote following the Hawklets’ 2-0 Class 3 quarterfinals win over visiting Park Hill South on Saturday, sending them to a state semifinal 4 p.m. on Friday at Blue Springs South against Christian Brothers College.
Both of Rockhurst’s goals on Saturday came during sequences that began with restarts.
“We knew, in a close games, they could be a deciding factor,” Lawson said.
But it wasn’t until midway through the second half that the Hawklets, who finished with a 12-shot and eight-corner kick advantage, finally converted.
That’s when defender Kyle McLagan slipped a well-struck header past Park Hill South goalkeeper Heath Turner off a cross from midfielder Robert Kelly. Kelly had thrown the ball into the box a few seconds before, then collected the Park Hill South clearing attempt.
“Going up for every restart, you have to fight,” said McLagan, a central defender who helped the Hawklets, 19-9-1, record their fourth-consecutive shutout and 14th overall. “You’re not going to get your head on every one, but the one that you do, you have to get it on target.”
Until that goal, the Panthers, 22-7, had survived despite a lack of possession and repeated entries into the box by Kelly and long somersault throw-ins by Matthew Martel.
“Most of (Rockhurst’s) goals have been off restarts, so we were prepared for that,” Panthers coach Joe Toigo said.
Rockhurst scored again with less than 4 minutes left when forward Jim Brazeal settled a rolling cross into the box from Alec Grawe and sent it by Turner. Grawe had controlled a long ball off a free kick from beyond midfield to setup the cross from the right wing.
Park Hill South, which lost three starters to injury since its 1-0 win at Rockhurst on Oct. 8, was unable to effectively push forward for chances all game.
Only two of the Panthers’ 10 shots came in the second half, and they had just two corner kicks during a game in which a constant crosswind and heavy gusts made accurate long balls difficult to strike.
“We were swimming up hill today,” Toigo said. “The benefit of the wind goes to the powerful team. I think (Rockhurst was) a little more powerful a team.”
Smithville beats Center in Class 2 quarterfinals
Five players scored for the Warriors, who led only 1-0 at halftime but netted four goals in a span of 15 minutes to pull away after the break.
Daniel Parker, Marco Quattrocolo, Trent Williams, Jason Warring and Isaac Benner scored for Smithville.
“I think because they’ve been there before, they crave the chance to play in the state tournament,” Smithville coach Jon Reed said. “They’ve put in a lot of hard work. This is the time of year it pays off.”
Colin Schoultz provided the lone tally for Center, which finished the season 6-14.
| Sam McDowell, The Star
Sam McDowell, The Star