To paint a better picture of Kapaun Mount Carmel’s 5-1 win over Valley Center in the 5A girls soccer regional final, just look at one simple statistic — shots on goal.
One year after a heartbreaking regional loss ended their season, the Crusaders (14-4) outshot Valley Center 27-1 to advance to the 5A quarterfinals in dominating fashion. Hannah Shelton put the Hornets ahead less than four minutes into the game after scoring on the one shot that her team attempted, but Kapaun coach Alan Shepherd wasn’t worried.
“I thought we came back pretty well from a 1-0 deficit,” Shepherd said. “We didn’t panic early in the game or in the first half and we kept our game plan.”
From then on, the ball seemed to almost always remain in Kapaun’s possession.The first of Taylor Kruse’s two goals put her on the board midway through the first half, and the Crusaders took the lead for good after Mackenzie Heiman scored with 7:24 left in the half.
Kruse’ second goal came less than three minutes after halftime, making the score 3-1.
“It’s all just a team effort,” Kruse said. “We all take as many shots as we can and get the ball to each other, and it’s not greedy at all or anything.”
Valley Center had an opportunity to make it a 3-2 game when Victoria Hill lined up for a penalty kick with 28:10 left, but her shot bounced off the left post and the Hornets wouldn’t get close to the goal again. Kapaun ended up scoring on three of its 11 shots in the second half.
The Hornets finish their season 10-6-1, having lost in the same game that ended Kapaun’s season a year ago.
“It means legitimately everything, especially for the seniors,” Kruse said of moving on to the state tournament. “We could not have the repeat of last year, and still gets to us. We knew we just had to pick it up, and we did.”
The Crusaders, who entered the top five of the KSCA 5A girls soccer rankings this week, will travel to Hays on Tuesday for the state quarterfinals.
“I don’t care about rankings,” Shepherd said. “The only ranking I care about is the last one.”
First half – VC, Shelton; KMC, Tay.Kruse (Boleski), Heiman. Second half – KMC, Tay.Kruse, Elving, Gahagan (Morton). Shots – Valley Center 1-0—1, Kapaun 16-11—27.