TOPEKA — It was becoming almost a troubling tradition, where the boys soccer team at Trinity Academy would reach the state tournament, only to come away without a championship.
This was the year to end it, with the four-year careers of 11 seniors culminating in Saturday afternoon's Class 4-1A title match against Rose Hill.
It was the realization of a goal, four years in the making, for the Trinity seniors in their 1-0 victory at Hummer Sports Complex. It was the school's first title since 2001.
"It's always been in the back of our mind," Trinity senior goalkeeper Quentin Walters said. "I've seen a lot of growth in these men since then. I love all the seniors this year. (Finally winning state) has been our driving force all year."
Trinity has not been short on talent in recent years, and while this class may have been the deepest, talent was not the difference this year.
"It had a lot to do with trust in each other," Walters said.
Fellow senior Cooper Mork added: "We've never been this tight and had this amount of chemistry. It's incredible how close we are. That's the one thing we've never had in the past."
It created an almost impenetrable force in the back for Trinity. Mork is the glue that held the defense together. Rose Hill had scoring chances, but never put a threatening shot on goal.
"Your last guy back has got to be a commander," Trinity coach Tom Nykamp said. "He's got to be willing to battle and not willing to quit and Cooper Mork has definitely been our anchor."
Rose Hill provided a stark contrast to the senior-laden Knights. The Rockets played with only two starters back from last season. Their lone lapse of the game was costly.
Trinity's David Warnky caught Rose Hill off-guard by rolling a corner kick to the near post, where Kevin Friedberg had a step on his defender and chipped it in the open net in the 20th minute.
"David played a great ball to me and right before it came to me I looked up and saw the keeper wasn't on the post, so I just kind of slotted it," Friedberg said.
It was their second loss in the title game for some of Rose Hill's seniors — the Rockets lost to Kansas City Christian in 2008.
"To be at the state tournament three times in a row and come away with two seconds and a third, I feel for them," Rose Hill coach Jerry Treat said. "It's hard on me, but it's harder on the seniors."
Trinity did not allow a goal the entire postseason.
"We make our mistakes, we're not perfect," Mork tried to claim.
Maybe not perfect, but certainly championship-caliber.
Trinity Academy (17-2-2) 1 0 — 1 Rose Hill (13-5-3) 0 0 — 0
First half—Trinity, Friedberg (Warnky). Shots— Trinity 5-1-6, Rose Hill 3-1-4. Saves— Trinity, Walters 3-1-4; Rose Hill, Parrott 4-1-5.
First half—Bonner Springs, Harrington (Lopez). Second half—St. James, Deggendorf (unassisted); St. James, own goal; Bonner Springs, Bush (Frank); St. James, Enna (unassisted). Shots—St. James 4-6-10, Bonner Springs 3-5-8. Saves—St. James, Huber 2-4-6; Bonner Springs, Steuart 4-3-7.