Maize’s perennial girls soccer success isn’t so hard to understand. It can be boiled down to three words – follow the leader.
The Eagles players have such a deft touch of leading the ball ahead, starting from the defensive zone and working it forward quickly by placing passes at the precise angle and catching a teammate in stride.
That formula worked to near-perfection Thursday night, when Maize (18-0) took a 7-1 halftime lead and breezed to a 9-1 victory over Heights (9-9) in a Class 6A regional final.
“It starts with the midfielders,” said Whitney Lucas, who had three goals and two assists.
“They just find us well up there, and we like to finish for them,” said junior Paige Thompson, who scored four goals.
Maize coach Jay Holmes said the passing is a focus during practice.
“We do a lot of possession drills all year long,” he said. “And I’ve been fortunate to have some of these girls that have played together the last 2-3 years offensively, and they just have a lot of good chemistry right now.”
Depth is also a strength, Holmes said.
“I sub a lot of girls,” he said. “They’re pretty rested throughout the game. The only player I play the entire game is the goalkeeper.”
The Eagles will play host to North (11-7), a 3-2 upset at Hutchinson, in a quarterfinal on Tuesday.
After one of her goals, Thompson told her teammates that she was aided by her lucky bandage.
“I cut my finger at school, and I thought maybe I’ll throw a Band-Aid on it, and I guess it helped me,” she said with a laugh.
Lucas said balanced talent is a key to success.
“I think we’re strong all around,” she said. “Our defense is good about getting the ball out and finding midfielders. Up top, we’re just finding the back of the net this year. What else can you ask for?”
First half – Lucas, M, (Kranick), 37:21; Thompson, M, (Kranick), 32:47; Lucas , M, (un.), 32:08; Thompson, M, (Lucas),20:35; J. Scott, H, (un.), 1:57; Davis (Lucas), 13:00; Lucas, M (Holmes); Thompson (Holmes) . Second half – Thompson, M, (un.), 35:55; Holmes, M, (Cinotto), 3:34. Shots – Heights 2-2—4; Maize 15-11—26. Saves – Heights, Kindall 4-X—4, Novotny 0-4—4; Maize, Shupe 1-1—2.