EMPORIA – In the end, Bishop Carroll coach Greg Rauch’s pregame assessment proved correct Friday night, and that was what kept the Golden Eagles again just short of the Class 5A girls soccer championship game.
“We talked about it in pregame that the team that capitalizes on the other team’s mistakes was going to win – and they did,” Rauch said of Blue Valley Southwest. “They’re a very solid team.”
BV Southwest senior Delaney Kooken scored from point-blank range about 5 1/2 minutes into the game, and the Timberwolves (13-5-2) made that stand up for a 1-0 semifinal victory at Emporia High.
Southwest will try to keep St. Thomas Aquinas from its fifth straight 5A title in Saturday’s title game. The Saints (19-1) scored three times in the first 10 minutes and rolled past Kapaun Mount Carmel, 6-0. Kapaun (15-5) will face Carroll (17-3) at noon for third place.
Kooken found herself in the Carroll goal mouth with the ball just a foot away just 5:32 into the game. She quickly pushed it into the net before Carroll goalkeeper Jami Reichenberger could react, and 75 scoreless minutes later, the Timberwolves were advancing.
“I was worried at first that she had it, but then at the same time I also had the confidence that I had hit the right shot,” Kooken said. “It was going in the goal, and it was going to be the game-deciding thing.”
Timberwolves coach Jason Pendleton said he’s glad to see Eastern Kansas League rival Aquinas in the final, because that kind of competition prepares a squad for the rigors of a state tournament. Aquinas won the regular-season matchup 4-2.
“Going into (Friday’s) game, our league was 17-4 in the playoffs,” Pendleton said. “That sort of environment, day in and day out, prepares us to play against anybody.”
Reichenberger was strong in goal, stopping nine of 10 Southwest shots, which drew compliments from both Pendleton and Rauch.
“Their goalkeeper was outstanding, or we could have had another couple goals,” Pendleton said. “The ironic part is that we got a goal on one that wasn’t one of our better chances.”
Aquinas 6, Kapaun 0 – The Saints’ early barrage left Kapaun shellshocked, and the Crusaders’ offense couldn’t answer.
In fact, Kapaun didn’t manage a shot on goal in the first half.
“They came out high tempo, offensively and defensively, their transition was very good, getting numbers in on the attack, and put us on our heels in the first 10 minutes,” Kapaun coach Alan Shepherd said.
“(Aquinas has) girls that are technically sound, athletic – they’ve got the whole ball of wax.”
Kapaun managed to keep Aquinas off the scoreboard for a good chunk of the first half and most of the second, but the Saints also thwarted any charge Kapaun tried to make.
BVSW 1, Carroll 0
First half – BVSW, Kooken (Lynch). Shots – BVSW 5-5–10, Carroll 1-5–6. Saves – BVSW, Fahler 1-3–4; Carroll, Reichenberger, 5-4–9.
Aquinas 6, Kapaun 0
First half – Aquinas, Kutey (unassisted), Sweeney (unassisted), Sweeney (Meyers), Holmes (Meyers), Meyers (Stompoly). Second half – Aquinas, Heying (Geiger). Shots – Kapaun 0-2–2, Aquinas 7-8–15. Saves – Kapaun, Jacobs 6-3–9; Aquinas, Loughman 0-1–1.