High School Sports

Cantele, Wells share special bond in Kapaun’s record-breaking season

Kapaun Mount Carmel senior soccer player Thomas Wells, left, has scored more than 40 goals this season, breaking the state record and surpassing his coach, Anthony Cantele, right, as the best single-season goal scorer in Kapaun history.
Kapaun Mount Carmel senior soccer player Thomas Wells, left, has scored more than 40 goals this season, breaking the state record and surpassing his coach, Anthony Cantele, right, as the best single-season goal scorer in Kapaun history. The Wichita Eagle

When Anthony Cantele was playing soccer at Kapaun Mount Carmel and breaking records, he never really gave it much thought.

In fact, he hasn’t ever thought about it as much as he does now.

That’s because Cantele has returned to Kapaun as the boys soccer coach and senior Thomas Wells has not only obliterated his single-season scoring record, but also the state record with 46 goals this season.

It has been a fun experience for Cantele, as he coaches a player breaking his records and a team that might be one of the most complete offensive sides to ever come out of Wichita.

Kapaun (15-3-1) plays Blue Valley Southwest (15-3-1) on Friday in the Class 5A semifinals in Emporia.

“I was rooting for him to break it every step of the way,” Cantele said. “For me, it’s a lot more fun to coach a kid that is breaking records, especially when it’s your own record. I’ve known Thomas for a really long time, so for him to come up and explode his senior year like this has been a really, really cool experience.”

After scoring 21 goals last season, no one was surprised Wells was the City League’s top goal scorer this season. But few saw a 46-goal season coming.

To put that in perspective, Wells, who recently orally committed to play at Tulsa, is averaging almost a hat trick every game.

“I don’t even think I’ve wrapped my mind around it yet,” Wells admitted.

Outside of giving Cantele a hard time about his record falling, the players say they really don’t talk about their record-breaking season. Garrett Goodson, Kapaun’s other forward, has shattered the program’s assists record with 26.

Kapaun’s 81 goals are 15 more than any other team in 5A.

“We don’t really look at those records as individual records because we know without everybody clicking together and doing their part, then none of this would be happening,” Goodson said. “We realize we just need to have fun with it and not focus on records or how many goals we’re going to score.”

What makes this attack supercharged is that not only does Kapaun have talent all the way around the field, but the players understand their roles and stay within them.

Cody Benedict and Kevin Black generate the attack from the middle of the field, while Jack Barier and Lyam Silveira swoop in from the wings and provide support.

When it clicks, like it did when Kapaun defeated Salina South 10-1 in Tuesday’s quarterfinal, Kapaun overwhelms opponents with its attack.

“It almost feels like we can make anything happen the way we want it to happen if we just have the right mindset,” Goodson said.

Being surrounded by a great attack helps, but Wells also took his game to the next level this season with the help of Cantele.

In the past, Wells could get by with just his quickness. After working extensively with Cantele, Wells is now making advanced runs away from the ball and reads the game well. It’s made him nearly unguardable one-on-one since he is making more efficient runs.

“It’s not just that he has that elite level of speed,” Cantele said. “It’s how he uses it now.”

Cantele called a meeting this week to remind the team that records are not what this team is ultimately after.

They all agreed this season would feel incomplete without the first state championship since 1997.

“Very few people are going to remember those records,” Cantele said. “We don’t even have a place to officially put them up in our school. But if we win a championship as a team, then that will be everywhere.”

Taylor Eldridge: 316-268-6270, @vkeldridge

State boys soccer

Friday’s Semifinals

Class 6A at Carpenter Stadium: SM East (17-1-1) vs. Dodge City (19-0), 5 p.m.; Washburn Rural (14-1-4) vs. Olathe East (18-1), 7.

Class 5A at Emporia High: St. James Academy (8-8-3) vs. Carroll (15-1-3), 5 p.m.; Kapaun (15-3-1) vs. BV Southwest (15-3-1), 7.

Class 4-1A at Hummer Park, Topeka: Andover Central (10-6-3) vs. Basehor-Linwood (18-1), 5 p.m.; Miege (16-2-1) vs. Louisburg (14-4-1), 7.

Third-place matches at noon Saturday at all sites, championship matches at 2 p.m.

Other Wichita-area teams in semifinals

Carroll (15-1-3) returns to the 5A semifinals for the first time since winning its first state trophy in 2014 with a third-place finish. Carroll is led by a strong junior class, including Corbyn Howard, Skyler Stuckey, Alec Bevis, Ryan Griffin, and Dawson Lee. Carroll’s defense has produced eight straight shutouts heading into its semifinal matchup against St. James.

Andover Central (10-6-3) will make its first appearance in the state semifinals in the program’s 15-year history when the Jaguars play the top seed Basehor-Linwood in Class 4-1A in Topeka. Andover Central upset McPherson and Winfield in back-to-back games to reach the semifinals. The Jaguars are led by a balanced attack, which features Jacob Meeker and Jackson Lewallen.