LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — The best soccer secret in town is getting out.
The boys at Kansas City East Christian are chasing championships on a national scale, while taking an unconventional approach to building a team. Word is getting out about the Lions, who aren’t accustomed to standing in the spotlight.
KCEC (6-4) isn’t the typical high school soccer team. The majority of their 42 players are homeschooled or attend schools where there is no varsity soccer team. As of Monday, MaxPreps had the Lions ranked as the third-best soccer team in Kansas, when the team held a 6-2 record.
KCEC is based in Overland Park, Kansas, but the team typically practices at Franke Soccer Fields in nearby Lee’s Summit, Missouri.
“There’s a couple of teams that have put us on the schedule and they’ve said, these guys can put together a good team,” Trace Gaskell, the Lions’ third-year head coach, said.
Through the team’s first eight games, Kansas City East Christian’s defense had surrendered only 13 goals. Defense is a priority for this club. Many of their players didn’t know they were being lauded by MaxPreps until we told them. Two weeks ago, MaxPreps had them as high as number two in all of Kansas.
“It’s nice to be noticed a little bit. We’ve been in the shadow of other teams for a little while, but we’re starting to come out and people are noticing us,” Jordan Smith, KCEC midfielder, said.
“We like to possess through the midfield and attack very quickly. I feel like we’re succeeding very well at that,” Haddon DeMoure, a striker for the Lions who’d scored 17 times in the first 10 matches, said.
Their competition isn’t exactly anonymous, either. So far in 2023, these Lions have faced two clubs that went to their respective state final fours a season ago. Their eventual goal is to go for a national championship at the National Home School Sports Championships in Tennessee in October. Kansas City East Christian finished fourth in that event a year ago.
The Lions’ next matchup is a doozy. St. Michael’s (8-0) awaits KCEC Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. in Lee’s Summit.