Pinpointing the difference between the Heights and Kapaun Mount Carmel girls soccer teams was a difficult thing to do after the two played for a Class 5A regional championship on Thursday night.
Kapaun emerged victorious, 3-2, avenging a regular-season loss on the same Heights field that represented the low-point for its season. The Falcons (13-5) had their season cut short by an unusually difficult opponent this early in the postseason.
The Crusaders (14-4) didn’t win because they wanted the win more than the Falcons. Heights had every right to claim that it had proved itself equal to Kapaunafter 80 minutes on Thursday.
It was the Crusaders who happened to produce one more fortuitous bounce.
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“If anything this game shows the girls deserve to be here,” Heights coach Ryan Kelley said. “The girls were more than capable of (advancing). I hope the last couple of years show where this program is going and that we’re a team that no one can overlook.”
While there were several pieces that came together for Kapaun to win, none were greater than the play of junior Grace Hagan.
The forward was magnificent for the Crusaders, coming through with the equalizer after Kapaun fell behind 1-0, setting up the go-ahead goal for a 2-1 lead in the second half, and then scoring the game-winning goal with 21 minutes remaining.
“I wasn’t going to let this be the seniors’ last game,” said Hagan, a junior. “They couldn’t go down right here. I just couldn’t let it end.”
But her counterpart, Heights’ Jada Scott, had the same unquenchable desire.
After watching Hagan give Kapaun a 2-1 lead in the 52nd minute, Scott didn’t stop pressing until she scored less than two minutes later on a rocket from just outside the box that tied the score.
Scott, too, was playing with great motivation.
“I wanted to prove to them that we’re a good team, just like them,” Scott said. “ I think we’re obviously as good as they are. It was just a tough game.”
Kapaun had problems the entire game containing Scott’s passes over the top to the speedy Colleen Howland, who scored five minutes into the game. The chances were there, but the Falcons failed to finish one more time to equalize.
After leaving this field the last time questioning themselves, Kapaun walked off this time feeling like it had discovered itself — at just the right time.
“We worked so much better as a team (Thursday), instead of being selfish,” Kapaun senior Taryn Kruse said. “We all came out ready to play this game and we won when it mattered.”
It was a game that featured both teams’ best players making big-time plays.
On Thursday night, Hagan just made one more.
“My favorite part about scoring is the hug after,” Hagan said. “So after I scored that last one, I was just looking for all of my teammates. It’s such a great feeling to get it back for them and contribute to the win.”
First half—Heights, Howland (unassisted); Kapaun, Hagan (Kruse). Second half—Kapaun, Harpel (Hagan); Heights, Scott (unassisted); Kapaun, Hagan (unassisted). Shots—Kapaun 8-6—14, Heights 4-8—12. Saves—Kapaun, Jacobs 1-1—2; Heights, De La O 2-1—3.
Derby 2, Hutchinson 1
Hutch — Downing (Hartshorn). Derby — Palmer (Eickelman), Hartman. Shots — Hutch 5-1 — 6, Derby 6-5 — 11. Saves — Hutch, Armstrong 2-4 — 6; Derby, DeCristoforo 2-1 — 3.
Trinity 7, McPherson 0
Trinity — Miller (Linton), Linton (Miller), Linton (Henderson), Linton (Miller), Orndorff, Orndorff (Linton), Linton (Alexander). Shots — McPherson 2, Trinity 24. Saves — McPherson, White 17; Trinity, Hoch 2.
Maize South 3, Newton 0
Maize South — Adams, Burnett (LaValle), Burnett (Adams). Shots — Newton 1, MS 5. Saves — Newton, Akers 3-4 — 7; MS, Howard 1-5 — 6.
Maize 10, Topeka 1
Topeka — Ostrander. Maize — McClure (Davis), Toth (Zane), Toth (Loe), Swanson (Taylor), Toth (Young), McClure (pk), Isaacson (Davis), Davis, Davis (Kingrey), Davis (Toth). Shots — Topeka 3-1 — 4, Maize 10-10 — 20. Savis — Kox 4-7 — 11; Maize, Baalman 2-x — 2, Allen x-1 — 1.