TOWANDA — Right when the Berean Academy Warriors thought the game was theirs, Steve Loya of Lenexa St. James proved otherwise.
Loya, a junior, scored the game-winning goal with 3:42 remaining to give St. James a 3-2 victory and the Class 4-1A soccer state championship Saturday afternoon at the Circle Athletic Complex.
Loya, who also scored the winning goal on a penalty kick in the semifinals Friday night against Rose Hill, took a pass from Alec Bartlett and hammered a shot high past the outstretched arms of Berean keeper Karlin Wiebe.
"It all happened so fast," Loya said. "Alec gave me a great pass and I knew that their defense would attack pretty quickly so I just fired. Luckily, I put it in a good spot."
Loya's goal put an end to Berean's comeback attempt. Trailing 2-0 at the half, Berean stole the momentum in the second half. Joshua Sommerfeld scored on a penalty kick for Berean's first goal with 14:49 remaining. Four minutes later, the Warriors tied the score with a goal by Lonnie Penner.
"When we got that (penalty kick) to get us within one we knew we had a good chance," Berean coach Russell Busenitz said. "When you're down one, you know it only takes one shot and we knew we would get a chance to get even."
Getting even didn't look like a possibility early in the game. St. James scored its first goal two minutes in and added its second shortly afterward.
"We wanted to start fast, because we watched them (Friday) and saw that they were great down the stretch," St. James coach Rick Enna said. "I was glad that we got the two early goals, but I was worried at halftime because we had an opportunity to score a couple more and didn't."
Berean Academy0 2—2 St. James2 1—3
First half —St. James, Kohlrus (unassisted), St. James, Mata (unassisted). Second half — Berean, Sommerfeld (penalty kick), Berean, L.Penner (unassisted), St. James, Loya (Bartlett). Shots— Berean 2-3—5; St. James 5-3—8. Saves— Berean, K.Wiebe 1-4—5; St. James, Brunellie 3-1—4.
Rose Hill 2, DeSoto 0 — Rose Hill got first-half goals from Dom Swindler and Ramsey Khalidi on the way to a victory in the third-place game.
"I wasn't expecting them to play this well, after the disappointing loss," Rose Hill coach Jerry Treat said. "But they played more relaxed. Anytime you put your shoes on you have to show-up to play and they did."
Rose Hill2 0—2 DeSoto0 0—0
First half—Rose Hill, Swindler (Khalidi), Rose Hill, Khalidi (unassisted). Shots— Rose Hill 4-4—8; DeSoto 3-4—7. Saves— Rose Hill, Raevsky 4-0—4; DeSoto, Buffkin 3-3—6.