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Royals Chop Down Leawood Forest; Continue Title Chase

The Royals continued their rich run of form with their 8th consecutive win in the Select League by defeating Leawood Forest on Thursday, June 27th, in Leawood Kansas.

Woodland (8-0-1 24 pts) entered the match eager to make the most of their 6-point lead they've accrued over their fellow rivals. While Leawood has endured multiple injuries they aren't without ability or great talent.

"We knew coming in to this match that Leawood will have lots to say on how this season ends. When they are on their game, they're a proper handful, and can win a result from anyone in the league. We had to be at our best," coach Ross Harris said after the match.

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Woodland started this match similarly to their other matches--with strong attacking play from the opening whistle. They possessed the ball well throughout the opening minutes, and created some promising attacks. Jordan Flores played the ball out to Spence Jean-Baptiste who dribbled around his defender, and delivered a low cross that Haddon DeMoure was able to tap home. 1-0 Woodland.

Leawood would try to respond quickly with aggressive through-balls to their dangerous striker, Marc Ackerman, trying to restore parity. But Woodland defenders Derrick Carson, Johnathan Young, Jordan Flores, captain Gage Pemberton, and goalkeeper Naguib Nassir were equal to the challenge.

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One-third of the way through the half the Royals doubled their advantage. Pierre Bellerice played a well-placed diagonal ball to unlock Brennan Williams on the right side of the penalty box. Williams survived a strong tackle, dinked the ball across the six for a waiting Brett Jackson, who delicately guided the ball into the net.

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Woodland was bolstered by the return of Royals' utility man Josh Sherfy from a nasty high-ankle sprain sustained in week 3.

"The initial scans told us achilles tear. 2nd opinions came in handy, and we were able to welcome Josh back to the squad," Harris added.

Royals' captain Gage Pemberton played an excellent through-ball to create a 4v1 on the Leawood goal. DeMoure played the cross to Bellerice, Bellerice played it to Sherfy who calmly finished past the despairing dive of the keeper for the 3-0 lead.

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The 2nd half saw Woodland fielding several of their subs to give them deserved game time for their good work each week, as well as giving some of the starters some load management rest. Luke Heaton, Max Torres, Andersson Obando, Jordan Flores, and Josh Sherfy were all able to get good shifts in and play well.

Leawood was able to mount several dangerous attacks in the 2nd half, showing the attacking skill and prowess Woodland was prepared for. Naguib Nassir, who recorded his 2nd shutout of the season, produced a few great saves to deny quality goal scoring opportunities from Forest.

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Spencer Bone would put the icing on his man of the match cake in the final third of the 2nd half. Brennan Williams controlled a chipped pass into the box, laid it off to Jean-Baptiste, who played a short pass to an unmarked Bone to the right of the penalty box. Bone slotted it home calmly into the bottom corner.

"He was everywhere today. Diagonal through-balls, controlled the speed of the game, set others up, kept the game at our pace...spledid effort today," coach Harris said.

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Woodland would put an exclamation point on the match when Brennan Williams played a short through ball to Josh Sherfy off a wonderful give-and-go. Sherfy calmly rounded the keeper and slotted home his 2nd, and the Royals' 5th.

A well-deserved 3-points off a challenging opponent. The win moves the Royals to 27 pts with a record of 9-0-1. The Royals play their next match against title-contenders Real Overland Park, the only team at present to defeat Woodland FC all season. Their match will Blue Valley Northwest High School at 6pm, on Saturday June 29th.

You can watch the match replay here on our yotube channel!

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