Varsity Kansas

Redskins enter soccer state playoffs as long shot

North High coach Dale Spaeth knows exactly where the Redskins stand in the Class 6A girls soccer playoffs.

It is becoming a familiar position.

“We’re the underdogs,” he said.

The Redskins (11-7) rode three goals from sophomore standout Jessica Quezada to stun Hutchinson, 3-2, last Thursday at Hutch.

Quezada credited her teammates for getting her the ball in key situations.

“It was a tough game,” she said. “We were really wanting the regional championship, so we all worked hard to get there.”

On the deciding goal, however, the 5-foot-1 Quezada helped herself by scoring off her own rebound.

However, an even bigger road test awaits tonight — undefeated Maize (18-0). The Eagles are one of two unbeaten teams left in the playoffs, with Olathe East (18-0).

North seems to be peaking at the right time, and a big reason is Quezada. Her three goals against Hutch (14-4) gave her 32 for the season to go with 18 assists.

“She’s really come on strong,” Spaeth said of Quezada.

Tonight, Spaeth said North will have to press on the wing and hope for a performance similar to what happened at Hutchinson. North and Maize haven’t faced each other in four years, he said.

“We’ve been getting better all year,” he said. “By the end of the year, they’ve learned a lot – but we need to keep improving.”

Quezada also said Maize will be tough.

“They’ve got really good passes and shots,” she said. “I’ll have to drop more to help out the defenders and kind of dribble up and hope someone’s there when I cross it.”

Doing a good job of defending against the high-powered Eagles is also crucial, she said.

“I think if some of them are faster than our defenders, we need to give them a little bit of space, so when they turn, it’s one-on-one,” Quezada said.

Maize’s high number of club players is what makes the Eagles so tough, Spaeth said.

“A lot of our girls are not club players,” he said, “but we do have a few.”

Another road game shouldn’t faze the Redskins, Quezada said – especially with what’s at stake.

“Everybody wants to go to state,” she said. “It’s going to be difficult, but we’re going to try our hardest.”