A losing record and the Kapaun Mount Carmel girls soccer team just does not compute.
But Kapaun, the eight-time defending City League champion, was in danger of accepting such a notion on Thursday afternoon when Salina Central took a two-goal lead in the semifinals of the Titan Classic.
Then the reality of losing set in, which spurred the Crusaders. Kapaun scored two goals in the final 15 minutes and escaped with a 4-3 victory.
“We have such a legacy before us,” senior Kristin Palmer said. “All the alumni we’re playing for and the whole Kapaun program, we don’t want to let that down.”
More tradition was upheld, as Kapaun advances to Saturday’s championship game against Maize for the third consecutive year. Kapaun won in a shootout in 2010, while Maize won 3-0 last season.
“They’re always our best competition all season,” said Maize’s Maddie Holmes, who scored along with Whitney Lucas (twice) in a 3-0 win over Derby that was short due to lightning. “That game gets us ready for state competition. In the past when we’ve gone up there, the competition is a lot like Kapaun.”
But a pair of costly defensive lapses in the first half that directly led to two Central goals threatened to keep the two teams from reuniting. Kapaun salvaged the half on a Taryn Kruse goal in the final minute of the first half to cut Central’s lead to 3-2.
Kapaun coach Alan Shepherd’s message was clear at halftime.
“You’ve got to find motivation from within,” he said. “I don’t care if you’re a freshman or a senior, you’ve got to find it in yourself to win that 50/50 ball or to make that run. Even if you’re tired, it’s got to be done.”
After 25 minutes of applying pressure on Salina Central’s end, the Crusaders finally found their equalizer when senior Courtney Gahagan hooked a shot over the goalie and into the post that left an easy tap-in goal for Kapaun.
The game-winner was introduced by McKenzie Heiman, who lofted a through-ball from midfield that caught the Central defense pushing forward.
It allowed forward Taylor Kruse to run under it for an one-on-one opportunity with the keeper. Kruse needed only a few touches before she buried a shot in the left-side of the goal past the keeper to cement the comeback victory.
“I always shoot to the left,” Kruse said. “I always go opposite, for some reason. It’s more comfortable to me, I guess.”
2 2— 4Salina Central 3 0— 3
First half—Kapaun, Heiman (Tay. Kruse); Central, Leister (unassisted); Central, Exline (unassisted); Central, Exline (unassisted); Kapaun, Tar. Kruse (unassisted). Second half—Kapaun, Shepherd (Gahagan); Kapaun, Tay. Kruse (Heiman).
Shots—Kapaun 6-9—15; Central 5-1—6. Saves—Kapaun, Lujano 1-0—1; Central, Wiggins 1-4—5.
Maize 3, Derby 0
First half—Maize, Lucas (unassisted); Lucas (Hartzog); Holmes (Cinotto).
Shots—Derby 0-x—0; Maize 12-x—12. Saves—Derby, DeCristoforo 9-x—9; Maize, Shupe 0-x—0.