TOPEKA — Austin Clifton's hat trick and a stingy defense have the unbeaten Wichita Northwest boys soccer team a win away from a Class 6A championship.
Northwest withstood a second-half surge from Blue Valley Northwest, winning 3-1 Friday night at Hummer Sports Complex to reach today's final against Olathe South.
"This game really tested our defense," Bribiesca said. "Blue Valley got stronger has the night went on and they made us earn it."
Clifton got the Grizzlies going early, scoring with 23:01 left in the first half.
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"They were playing some guys up the field," Clifton said. "I took it to the left post and we were able to get the early lead."
Northwest maintained possession for much of the first half, allowing Clifton to score his second goal and taking a 2-0 halftime lead.
BV Northwest had two shots on goal in the first half, but came out with a renewed sense of energy in the second half. The Huskies outshot Northwest 13-5 in the second half.
"We knew that we'd see a different team in the second half," Bribiesca said. "Having the lead, I told the guys to clear the ball at every opportunity possible."
Clifton completed the hat trick with 9:18 remaining. Clifton's performance came as no surprise to Bribiesca.
"He's a senior that wants to win a championship," Bribiesca said. "He played lights out."
Overall, Bribiesca knows it'll take a similar performance to take the championship.
"We have to play through our defense," Bribiesca said. "As long as we keep an aggressive mentality, we definitely have a shot to win."
Wichita Northwest (20-0) 2 1 — 3 Blue Valley Northwest (15-4-1) 0 1 — 1
First half—W. Northwest, Clifton (B. Cramer), Clifton (unassisted). Second half— W. Northwest, Clifton (N. Cramer); BV Northwest, Brown (unassisted). Shots— W. Northwest 6-5—11, BV Northwest 2-13—15. Saves— W. Northwest, Lane 1-4—5; BV Northwest, Otto 3-1—4.
Olathe South (17-3) 0 1 1 — 2 Washburn Rural (17-1-2) 1 0 0 — 1
First half—Washburn Rural, Hall (unassisted). Second half— Olathe South, Hoeven (Sabiston). Shots— Washburn Rural 5-1-0—6, Olathe South 0-2-1—3. Saves— Washburn Rural, Murphy 0-1—1; Olathe South, Riggle 2-0—2.