State semifinal appearances are nothing new for Rose Hill's boys soccer team. The Rockets lost the Class 4-1A title game in 2008 and fell to Lenexa St. James on penalty kicks in 2009.
But the team has already hit a road bump in trying to return. Junior defender Jake Sutton tore his anterior-cruciate ligament in an offseason scrimmage against Buhler and will miss the season.
"He's a tough guy to lose," Rose Hill defender Dom Swindler said." We're kind of short in the defensive role, so it's really bad to have him hurt this early in the season and not be able to play all year. It's a big loss for us."
Sutton was an honorable mention all-league defender last year. He was an outside left back who could attack, which is a gem coach Jerry Treat said is hard to come by.
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Rose Hill (17-2 in 2009) lost seven seniors who received some level of All-Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV recognition, including All-Metro and coaches all-state selections Josh Aubuchon and Ramsey Khalidi.
Even with the losses, Treat thinks his team has what it takes to compete for a state championship. Swindler and coaches all-state midfielder Jace Dinkel are the leaders.
"Almost all the guys we're playing were on the sidelines last year," Treat said. "They were on the roster. A lot of them are juniors now. Some of them have been to state the last two years. Most of the guys that are starting now already have second- and third-place state medals."
Dinkel and Swindler have the kind of chemistry that can't be taught. Their club team, the WSO Thunder, won the 17-and-under Kansas State Cup in June. Both are looking forward to leading a young Rockets team.
"The new kids will be able to play," Swindler said." It probably won't be as fast-paced as we're used to at the time, but by the end of the year we will be able to connect like last year's team did and like every other team that went to state did."