The Kapaun Mount Carmel and Southeast boys soccer teams struggled early in the season. But today's 4:30 p.m. match at the Stryker Soccer Complex has City League title implications.
Kapaun and Southeast have been the most consistent teams in the league this decade. Since 2005, the Crusaders have won or shared the league title every year. The Buffaloes have finished no lower than third in that same span.
"Every year, this seams to be a big game," Southeast coach Thomas Rhodes said. "It's no different this year."
There are new aspects, though. Back on the Kapaun bench is coach Alan Shepherd. Kapaun (6-2, 3-0 CL) struggled to start the season trying to adjust to Shepherd's style of play. The Crusaders lost two of their first three games, but have since won five straight.
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"We're putting together some good moments," Shepherd said. "At times we go back to some bad habits, but our chemistry is getting better and we're starting to have a better understanding of what we need to do."
Southeast also struggled earlier in the year, especially on offense. The Buffaloes lost Trent Remmich and Taylor Knoll to graduation.
"We have been very inconsistent," Rhodes said. "We were trying some new things at the beginning and we weren't playing really hard."
Southeast is in the midst of its toughest stretch. Southeast beat Northwest 3-1 on Tuesday, and after today meets Liberal on Saturday and East on Tuesday.
The Buffaloes went through a similar stretch in 2008, losing to East and eliminating a chance at the league title.
"Last year we were worn out after this stretch," Rhodes said. "That showed against East when we lost by one. This year's team is a little deeper, so I don't have to play as many players as long."
Offensive explosion — Andover Central might have jump-started its offense in its 7-1 win over Mulvane on Thursday. Central (4-4) has been shut out in three of its losses. Junior Jake Gentzler scored three goals and teammate Tyler West added three assists. The Jaguars play rival Andover today before traveling to Circle and hosting Berean Academy next week.