Varsity Kansas

Valley Center rides late-season surge

According to coach Jeff Burger, Valley Center's girls soccer team has begun winning because it stopped being OK with losing.

The Hornets are on a four-game winning streak entering today's game against McPherson, which will decide the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II championship.

A difficult schedule that produced a 4-5 record preceded the streak. Though the Hornets played well in many losses, they chose to ignore the satisfaction that produced.

"Sometimes coming close only gets you so far and you need to have a big win," Burger said. "I think the girls got to the point where they weren't satisfied with close losses. I think that was a turning point because I think previously that would have been (cause for) celebration."

Valley Center was in a similar position last season before losing the AV-CTL II title in a game against Campus.

The 2009 season also included a late-season surge and Burger credits the difficult early-season schedule, which included games against Bishop Carroll, Salina Central and Campus, Derby and Goddard, for improved play recently.

"That's a five-game stretch that will either make you or break you," Burger said. "If you look at strength of schedule, that plays into the earlier part of the season, and it hasn't gotten completely easier."

The Hornets start four seniors on a roster that includes nine freshmen, so they're blending youth with experience.

Senior midfielder Carly Geddes has keyed the streak with two-goal games against Buhler and Salina South. Three wins during the streak have been shutouts, giving Valley Center six on the season.

"We've been talking about that game (against Campus) since last year," Burger said. "We have a good group of freshmen and we didn't graduate a lot from last year's team, which became competitive toward the end of the season. We've been able to build on that."

Elsewhere _ After a 1-6 start that included three straight 1-0 losses, Goddard has won six in a row while outscoring opponents 14-4.

* Kapaun Mount Carmel is preparing for the Class 5A tournament with a difficult weekend schedule. The Crusaders meet second-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas on Saturday and Kansas City, Mo., power Notre Dame de Sion on Sunday. Both games are in Kansas City, Mo.

* South coach Michelle Kuhns tries for her 100th win tonight when the Titans play host to Winfield.