During the pre-game warm-up before Tuesday's MSHSAA Class 3 girls soccer sectional at High School, a contigent of male Howell North fans decided it would be fun to heckle freshman .
The hooting and barking towards Carey wasn’t exactly vicious or malicious, but it was pretty loud, and it was the first time anything like that had ever happened to Carey, and for a moment, at least it did distract her.
“Oh my God, I thought I was going to cry,” Carey said. “That’s the first time anything like that has ever happened. But my teammates told me to ignore them and that just happens sometimes when a big crowd shows up for a big game like this. So I just tried to calm myself down.”
It didn’t take long for to get her revenge though.
Just six minutes in, Pattonville teammate Kailey Utley fired a missile toward the Howell North net that Knight goalkeeper Katie Martin stopped, but couldn’t completely corral.
Carey pounced on the rebound, and slammed it home, for the only goal of the game. The 1-0 Pattonville win ended Howell North’s season, and will sent the Pirates to the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2010.
After Carey scored, she also gave a little taunt back to the Howell North fans, as she ran toward them, popped her collar, and gave the crowd a little wave.
“It felt so good,” Carey said, after netting her 25th goal of the season. “I probably shouldn’t have done that, but I had to do something to let them know I was here.”
Pattonville coach Tom Iffrig noticed it all, and although he didn’t condone it, he said he understood.
"I’m not really keen on stuff like that,” Iffrig said. “But after the way they hounded her during warm-ups, I understand why she did it, and I bet it felt pretty good to her, to let them have it back in that moment.”
The pre-game taunting, and Carey’s spirited response, were just the beginning of a spine-tingling night for both the Pirates and Knights, that several times, was ever so close to going the other way.
In the first half alone, Francis Howell North sophomore Abigail Griffin was a part of three plays that ended in near-misses for the Knights.
She fed teammate Carli Bond on a 2-on-1 midway through the half that ended with a shot that could’ve tied the score, but instead sailed wide right.
A few minutes later, Griffin nearly scored on a volley off a corner kick, but Pattonville goalkeeper Kayla Benoit was able to snag the ball just before it crossed the goal line.
And then late in the half, the ball bounded off three different players deep in the Pattonville box, with Griffin tapping a shot toward the net.
But once again, the ball sailed wide, and Pattonville preserved the one-goal lead.
In the second half, Howell North had several other good scoring chances, including a point-blank chance for junior Kayla Welch, who fired a blistering shot toward the Pirate net, that Pattonville's Benoit was somehow able to stop.
“That’s just how this sport is,” Howell North coach Mark Olwig said. “It was definitely frustrating. I thought we played a pretty good game. We had lots of chances, but sometimes they just don’t go in. We just have to tip our cap to Pattonville.”
The Pirates (21-5) will now host the No. 1-ranked team in the city, Cor Jesu Academy, in the state quarterfinals on Saturday. The actual location for the game has not been announced, due to construction on the Pattonville campus.
The winner will advance to the state soccer Final Four June 1 and 2, in Blue Springs, MO.
Howell North finished its year with a 14-11 record.