In its first state semifinal game in school history, Wichita East understood that taking down a team that’s here often would be a difficult task.
And when the Blue Aces could not convert the few chances they received, they could not stop Olathe East’s experience and defense, losing 4-0 on Friday at Hummer Sports Complex.
“We’re under the lights,” Dylan Gruntzel said. “We’re on this beautiful field in the final four of 6A soccer and I think that got to us. We tried to get here earlier to get rid of some of that, but it didn’t help to much.”
Olathe East scored early goals in the 13th and 17th minutes from Logan Steen and Zac Marquess.
East kept fighting, digging in on hard runs down the sides of the field.
The Blue Aces’ best chance came in the 37th minute when the attacking forwards moved ahead again. But a feet-first save by Olathe East’s Collin Shepard in the box kept Wichita East off the board.
“We possessed well, but we couldn’t finish,” Gruntzel said. “If we finish one of those it’s whole different game.”
In the second half, Wichita East tried some other offensive attacks to try and break the Hawks.
East almost had a goal off the Hawks new man in goal Brad Krull, but that was negated by an offsides flag.
The Blue Aces pushing for their first goal, the Hawks tacked on another goal, this time from sophomore Shane Kopplin.
It’s been a pretty good ride to the state championship for Wichita East going through Garden City and Maize in overtime to get to this position.
Gruntzel will rely on senior leader Emilio Montanez and Tre Thomas to lead his team in Saturday’s third-place game against Blue Valley Northwest at noon.
“Those guys are work horses,” he said. “They don’t quit for me. Even when we we’re down 4-0 they were still working for me. They kept pushing and they kept pushing the guys.
“They’re here now and they know what to expect and hopefully we can play a better game and capitalize on the mistakes the other team makes,” Gruntzel said.
First half — Olathe East, Steen; Marquess (Lyon). Second half — Olathe East, Kopplin; Vanlandingham. Shots—Olathe East 14; Wichita East 7. Saves—Olathe East, Shepard 3, Krull 3; Wichita East, Garcia 3.