The road to the Class 5A quarterfinals may include a date with the Heights girls soccer team, and that’s OK to Kapaun Mount Carmel.
Since suffering a 1-0 defeat at Heights on April 24, Kapaun won the rest of its City League games, including a 2-1 victory over No. 2-ranked Bishop Carroll, to share the league title with Carroll. It is the ninth championship for Kapaun in the last decade.
So a rematch with Heights would be a welcome challenge.
Kapaun (12-4) will play Salina South, while Heights (12-4) plays hosts to West in the first round of regional play on Tuesday. The winners will play Thursday.
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“We’re not going to overlook Salina South because we have something to prove,” Kapaun coach Alan Shepherd said. “But I think the girls want another shot at (Heights) because we didn’t play very well last time.”
Selfishness overtook the Crusaders in the Heights game and that problem has since been corrected. Shepherd feels confident about how his team is playing entering the postseason.
“We’re playing together more as a team and our chemistry is really coming together,” Shepherd said. “At this point, we’re starting to put a few things together and I think we’re gaining momentum at the right time.”
Maize comeback – It has been more than six years since the last time Maize lost to a league opponent. That streak was in jeopardy last week, as the Eagles faced a 2-0 deficit to Derby with eight minutes remaining.
But Maize kept pressing until it scored a goal and then the equalizer, which set up overtime when it won 3-2. The Eagles finished the regular season with a 15-1 record and plays host to Campus in its regional Tuesday.
“This team showed some mental toughness to be able to come back like that and believe in each other,” Maize coach Jay Holmes said. “Teams are going to bring in different kinds of styles, so we have to be able to make the right adjustment to keep being successful.”
Deadly No. 14 seed — East coach Dylan Gruntzel accepted that East wasn’t going to have the record it wanted after more than half of his starters went down with prolonged injuries at the start of the season.
The Blue Aces won just one of their first eight games, but since regaining health and form, East finished out the season winning five out of eight games for a 6-9-1 record. That has left them as the No. 14 seed in the South Central regional and draws a first-round matchup at Manhattan (12-4) on Tuesday.
“I told the girls that if we would have been healthy, we’re probably the three-seed here,” Gruntzel said. “I don’t think anybody wants to see us in the first round as a low seed, and Manhattan is the team that we wanted to get.”
In fact, Gruntzel was more than happy with the seedings, which left East in the same region as Manhattan, Dodge City, and Garden City. Coming out victorious from that pod is something he feels like his team is capable of accomplishing.
“You can start to see the trust in our girls,” Gruntzel said. “The girls that sat out from injury, they trust the other girls more because they saw them develop right in front of their eyes. We ended up with a low seed, but we feel like we can beat anybody.”