Sports

Ike Opara
Ike Opara

Sporting Kansas City secured a 1-0 road victory on Saturday against New York City FC, handing the expansion side their first MLS defeat in front of a sold-out crowd of 27,545 – including 200 of the team’s traveling supporters – at Yankee Stadium.

Ike Opara headed home a Matt Besler throw-in for his second goal of the season and Luis Marin made three saves to extend the team’s current shutout streak to 197 minutes.

Sporting KC’s two central defenders combined for the game’s lone goal at the 12-minute mark.

With eight NYCFC players stationed in the goal mouth to defend the throw-in, Opara rose above Kwame Watson-Siriboe to connect with the 35-yard throw from Besler toward the top of the six-yard box and directed a powerful header past Josh Saunders.

Opara also scored on a header in the club’s season opener and now has eight career MLS goals, five of which have come since 2013 – third most by an MLS defender over the last three seasons. Similarly, Besler has eight career MLS assists and all but two have come from throw-ins.

New York City FC, who led the East entering Saturday’s inaugural match-up, was held scoreless for the second straight week.

Marin was called into action early on Saturday with his first of three saves coming on a Ned Grabavoy attempt in the opening minute. Javier Calle logged a game-high four shots in his first MLS start – in place of Adam Nemec (international duty) and David Villa (injury) – but was twice turned away by Marin with efforts from outside the penalty area in the 40th and 55th minutes.

Sporting Kansas City came close to doubling its lead in the 64th minute through the playmaking abilities of Benny Feilhaber. The World Cup veteran fed Dom Dwyer behind the NYCFC backline with a pass from midfield, however Saunders raced off his line to win the ball with a sliding challenge.

Both sides were missing key players and Sporting Kansas City saw Graham Zusi exit in the 39th minute due to injury (hamstring).

In addition, the visitors were without 2015 starters Roger Espinoza (international duty), Marcel de Jong (international duty) and Krisztian Nemeth (injury) while NYCFC were shorthanded due to the absences of Shay Facey (suspended), Khiry Shelton (international duty), George John (injury) and Sebastian Velasquez (injury).

Sporting Kansas City is now 7-1-2 in initial meetings against expansion (or relocated) clubs since 2005 and adds Yankee Stadium to the list of stadiums in which clubs have suffered their first loss against KC (BBVA Compass Stadium, BMO Field, Qwest Field, Rio Tinto Stadium, Robertson Stadium and Spartan Stadium).

Coincidentally, Saturday’s match was Sporting Kansas City’s 300th regular season road game and the team’s 100th road win across all competition in club history.

The team now returns home to play host to the Philadelphia Union at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 5, at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. The match will be shown live on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes. A limited number of tickets are available via Ticketmaster.com and the first 10,000 fans inside the gates will receive a commemorative Dom Dwyer print, painted by Kansas Citian John Bukaty and presented by adidas.

- Story from Sporting KC

A community shredding event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 28, at the Wyandotte County Sports Association complex, 10100 Leavenworth Road, Kansas City, Kan.

The event will be a fundraiser for the Wyandotte County Sports Association youth baseball and softball complex and the sports programs. A $5 donation per box is requested.

Proshred will be conducting the shredding. Those participating may bring their documents and have them shredded while watching them be destroyed.

A 28-4 record – the second most wins in KCKCC history – is the legacy left by a Lady Blue Devil sophomore class of, front row, from left, Rashaun Casey, Cierra Gaines, Eirenei Alesana and Cassidy Harbert; standing, Janai Mitchell, Erin Andrews, Alyson Weber, Iland Shurn and Julia Garrard. The 28 wins came on the heels of 24 wins as freshmen. (KCKCC photo by Mark Greathouse)
A 28-4 record – the second most wins in KCKCC history – is the legacy left by a Lady Blue Devil sophomore class of, front row, from left, Rashaun Casey, Cierra Gaines, Eirenei Alesana and Cassidy Harbert; standing, Janai Mitchell, Erin Andrews, Alyson Weber, Iland Shurn and Julia Garrard. The 28 wins came on the heels of 24 wins as freshmen. (KCKCC photo by Mark Greathouse)

Lady Blue Devils defeated No. 1 basketball team while finishing with second most wins in 28-4 season

by Alan Hoskins

It was a very special season for Kansas City Kansas Community College women’s basketball in 2014-2015 – in many ways.

For the first time in history, the Lady Blue Devils defeated a team ranked No. 1 in the nation and on the No. 1 team’s home court. A 73-64 winner at Johnson County, it was one of only two losses (and most decisive) for the Lady Cavaliers, who would go on to win the NJCAA Division II national championship.

The Blue Devils also defeated Highland, the runnerup in last year’s national tournament, three times including a dramatic come-from-behind 54-53 win at Highland. Trailing 28-14 at the half, the Blue Devils won it on a pair of clutch free throws by Cassidy Harbert with two seconds remaining.

Cowley was routed 76-56 for the first time in Valerie Stambersky’s 16 years as head coach and the Blue Devils twice ran off nine-game winning streaks.

The 28 wins in a 28-4 season are the second most in KCKCC history. Only the 1996-97 team which finished fifth in the nation in Division I with a 35-2 record won more games. Of the four losses, all came to teams in national tournaments – Hutchinson (36-1), which finished second in Division I; Coffeyville (26-10), the Jayhawk East champion; and JCCC (34-2) twice. The second JCCC came in the Region VI championship game. Leading by just two points at the half, JCCC pulled away down the stretch for a 70-51 win and a berth in the national tournament.

The Blue Devils shared the regular season Division II championship with Johnson County with 11-1 records and finished in a tie for second with the Cavaliers (11-2) in the Jayhawk East behind Coffeyville (12-1),

But it was more than wins and losses that made the season very special for Stambersky.

“This team had a lot of talent but numerous teams have a lot of talent but they don’t play together as well as this group did,” Stambersky said. “The way this team bought into the program was something I really hadn’t had and made it a special group.”

The foundation, Stambersky said, was laid by returning freshmen from a 2013-14 team that had finished 24-8. Four starters returned from that team, Cassidy Harbert, Janai Mitchell, Rashaun Casey and Julia Garrard and reserves Iland Shurn, Eirenei Alesana and Alyson Weber were joined at the start of the 2014 spring semester by two transfers, Cierra Gaines and Erin Anderson.

“Cierra and Erin came in the spring knowing they were not going to play,” Stambersky said. “We’ve had others come in and just go through the motions but Erin and Cierra came in and helped us get better by pushing everyone to be better.”

Gaines and Anderson joined Harbert, Mitchell and freshman Cheyenne North in the starting lineup this season but the talent was so deep that Stambersky was never hesitant about putting a second unit of Garrard, Casey, Shurn, and freshmen Sierra Roberts and Aricca Day on the floor. The result was six players averaging seven or more points a game and three more with more than five points a contest.

The highest scoring team in KCKCC history, the Blue Devils averaged 81.9 points a game, outscoring opponents an average of 26.0 points per contest. They also out-rebounded foes 47.8-36.8 per game and held opponents to just 34.1 percent from the field while averaging 42.6 percent.

Gaines led the scoring with a 14.1-point average and earned second team All-Jayhawk honors while North, a 5-11 freshman from Gallatin, Tenn., was a first team selection after averaging 11.5 points and leading in rebounding at 7.9 per game. Harbert, who led in assists (5.1) on the way to becoming KCKCC’s all-time career assist leader, earned honorable mention. Second in rebounding with 5.2 per game, Harbert was also fourth in scoring at 8.1.

Graduation losses will be heavy. In addition to Gaines and Harbert, the Blue Devils will be losing Mitchell, who was third in scoring (8.4) and rebounding (4.9); Anderson, the leader in steals (3.0) and second in assists (2.4) while averaging 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds; Casey, who averaged 6.1 points and 2.3 rebounds; Shurn, 5.7 points and 3.9 rebounds; Garrard, a standout defender who averaged 4.0 points and 3.4 rebounds; and Alesana, 2.0 points and 1.9 rebounds.

North heads the returnees along with Sierra Roberts, a 5-7 guard from SM South who was second in three-point goals behind Gaines while averaging 7.5 points and 2.6 rebounds; Arrica Daye, a 5-4 guard from Des Moines East who averaged 5.0 points and 2.2 assists; and Janay Jacobs, a 5-10 guard from Wichita Kapaun who average 2.4 points.

Alan Hoskins is the sports information director at KCKCC.

STAY CONNECTED