FENTON — For its first-ever state appearance, Neosho senior forward Yahir Ruiz said that he and his Wildcats teammates represented well, it just wasn't meant to be.
A pair of first-half goals in quick succession doomed Neosho in a 3-0 loss to Platte County, located just outside Kansas City, in the teams' Class 3 state semifinal Friday at the World Wide Technology Soccer Park in suburban St. Louis.
"They're a good team that is strong in the back," Ruiz said. "We just didn't finish our chances, they did. We were confident in our team, we knew we were good. We just had to come out and show it."
The win means Platte County will play Rockwood Summit at 3:30 p.m. Saturday for the state title, while Neosho will play Webster Groves at 2 p.m. that day for third place.
Friday, a pair of goals in quick succession ultimately doomed Neosho (18-8).
Joseph Habel scored in the 13th minute and Grant Allen added a 16th-minute tally to get the Pirates off and running.
Platte County coach Ashlynn Brantley said the goals were the result of a warmed-up Pirates side finishing its chances.
"Once we figure it out, they keep going," Brantley said. "That's been the same thing for us all season. We read the write-ups about (Neosho) and we knew this was going to be about finishing our chances. I felt like we did that well."
Platte County (26-1), which also made its state semifinal debut with the game Friday, added a second-half goal by Aaron Cordova in the 61st minute to cap the scoring.
While Neosho was shut out, the Wildcats did have chances.
Within a span of 30 seconds, Ruiz and junior midfielder Diego Vargas had, perhaps, Neosho's best offensive opportunities, but each were turned aside by Platte County senior goalkeeper Ian Lang.
Neosho coach James Carter said that, regardless of the scoreboard, he was pleased with his team's effort.
"At the end of the day, our guys didn't shut off," Carter said. "All we can do is prepare and play hard. I feel we did both of those things. That result was tough, but I thought we were way ahead on shots. That's kind of part of the game. We did have trouble in the final third, but to be fair, I thought we were a little nervous. I thought we didn't pass the ball real well in the first half and I thought we took some shots we wouldn't normally take. That's just, maybe, part of being here for the first time."
As it was, Lang had to make the most saves in the game, with five. Neosho junior keeper Kayden Wood made four in the defeat.
Playing in the third-place match was not Neosho's ideal plan for Saturday, but Ruiz said the Wildcats will be ready.
"We have to go out and play like we've forgotten (the loss)," he said. "We're a good team and we would like to win our last game of the season. We know we have the capability to do so, if we work together. That is our goal."
While things didn't go the way of Neosho on the field Friday, Carter said that it didn't come due to a lack of fan support.
The coach marveled at the vastly partisan and noisy Neosho crowd.
"We have the best crowd in the state of Missouri, I don't care who you are talking about," Carter said. "They follow us everywhere, so that's an incredible thing."