by Michael Smith
The Grain Valley boys soccer team got a bulk of its offense from seniors Owen White and Austin Schmitt to start the season.
Head coach Brett Lewis wanted to make a point to have his team get more players involved in the scoring and improve on finishing shots.
The Eagles did just that in Monday’s Suburban White Conference matchup against William Chrisman at Norman James Field in Independence.
Three different Eagles scored as they earned a 3-1 victory.
“I thought early in the season it was a lot of (Owen White) and Austin (Schmitt) scoring a chunk of the goals,” Lewis said. “Now we are spreading the scoring out and it’s really good for us. We have a lot of guys who are dangerous going forward.”
And that is part of the reason Grain Valley (10-5, 4-1 White Conference) has been playing much better soccer as of late. The Eagles are on a six-game winning streak and have found their identity, Lewis said.
Lewis added that his team’s recent success has been due to finding their identity.
“I think we’ve found the way we want to play. We found the style,” Lewis said. “We have guys who are accustomed to the role they are supposed to play. Everyone is starting to go out and execute.”
The team has also increased its intensity in recent games, senior Owen White said.
“I think we just wanted it more than anyone else,” White said. “We just had the grit to go and get it.”
The Eagles dominated possession throughout and were sharp with their passing. For the game, the Eagles held a 16-7 advantage in shot attempts and 11-6 edge in shots on goal over the Bears.
“I think we’ve been doing that the past few games and it has been working out really well for us,” Grain Valley junior defender Isaiah Johnson said. “We know how to control anything. It’s really good for us to take control of other teams like that.”
The first goal didn’t require a pass as White split a double team at the top of the box, found an open shot halfway inside the 18-yard box and punched the ball off the right post as it bounced in for a 1-0 lead with 29 minutes and 43 seconds left in the first half.
“I played the ball to Campbell (Childers) and he played it back to me,” White said. “One defender was behind the other, so I took a touch between them, and took a shot and it went in.”
Junior defender Isaiah Johnson notched Grain Valley’s second goal after he received a long pass from senior Austin Schmitt and he was able to get a light touch on the ball as it bounced over the goal line and into the net for a 2-0 advantage in the 50th minute.
“Coach tells us all the time to just get something on it,” Johnson said. “I saw Austin play the long ball in and I knew their guy was going to miss it, so if I got anything on it, I knew it would get past the keeper.”
Junior forward Ethan Galvan capped the scoring for the Eagles four minutes later when he received a pass near the right post and he lobbed a shot over Chrisman goalkeeper Trevor Jolley and inside the right post for a three-goal lead.
“Galvan was cheeky enough and composed enough to put the ball over the keeper right into the backside of the goal,” Lewis said. “Ethan has been playing really, really well the past couple of games. He’s getting some big goals for us.”
After that, Lewis was able to play his backups and Chrisman started creating more chances in the final 20 minutes. The Bears lone score came from sophomore Mauricio Lopez who ripped a shot from 35 yards out and snuck inside the left post.
“Grain Valley is a really good passing team and they showed that tonight,” Chrisman coach Justin Schmidt said.
Grain Valley senior Owen White, left, and junior Isaiah Johnson each had one goal in Grain Valley's 3-1 win over William Chrisman. Photo credit: Michael Smith