When the Andover boys soccer team looks back on its season, it will be able to point to the two times it played Goddard as the turning points.
The first time, a loss, the Lions stunned Andover on its home turf after one of the best starts in Andover’s history. It was the low point of the season.
And then the second tie, on Tuesday evening in a Class 5A quarterfinals game, Andover (16-2-1) saw its season peak in a 2-0 victory over Goddard. For the first time in a decade, the Trojans advance to the state semifinals, starting Friday in Olathe.
“That first game, we believed we were the better team and we just had a bad game,” Andover senior Tommy Fiszel said. “We were too confident at the time, so I think the loss really helped us. Back then it was just for league. I’d rather go to state than league.”
Back then Goddard’s three-headed scoring monster of Daniel Weaver, Jonatan Sevilla and Zach Koch identified a weakness in the Andover defense. They found the pockets in front of the back line and exploited that space by creating opportunity after opportunity.
On Tuesday, no such space was made available to them. Andover’s holding midfielders pinched back and formed a wall with their back four defenders that Goddard’s attackers never figured out.
It was just the second time Goddard (13-5-1) was shut out this season.
“Their attack is what has killed a lot of very good teams this season,” Andover coach Chris Lemons said. “Us being able to cut off that attacking presence was huge tonight.”
After being the aggressors in the first game, Goddard looked like a shell of itself in the rematch. Andover controlled possession the entire game and relentlessly tested Goddard’s defense.
Because of the extraordinary play of senior keeper Jacob Compton, who would finish with nine saves, Goddard appeared that it would maintain a scoreless tie heading into halftime.
But with less than a minute remaining in the half, Andover midfielder Drew Sokolosky sent an innocent-looking ball sailing into the box. It was a threat that Compton came off his line to extinguish, but instead was left devastated when a Goddard defender headed the ball over his outstretched hands and into the netting for an own goal.
“I just tried to keep my team in the game as long as I could,” Compton said. “It was a great learning experience for me. It was a crazy atmosphere and I just had to keep my guys calm when they started to get frustrated.”
Andover did not let up in the second half, producing a second goal on a wonderful play. Fiszel beat his defender to the end line, gaining the angle to play a rolling pass back to the center. Teammate Rahshei Thompson was there initially, but dummied and let the ball roll through to Ean Fisher, who easily slotted in a shot in front of an open frame.
“That play has worked for us a lot this season,” Thompson said. “I don’t care if I don’t get my name next to the goal or the assist, all that matters is that we, as a team, scored that goal. We’re a family here at Andover High. We don’t just say it, we mean it.”
At 16 wins, Andover still feels like it doesn’t receive the respect that it deserves. That perceived slight is what is fueling them entering the state semifinals.
“We have a good record, but there’s a lot of people out there that don’t think we’re that good,” Fiszel said. “I guess the only way to convince them is to go up there and win. That’s about it.”
First half—Andover, own goal. Second half—Andover, Fisher (Fiszel). Shots—Goddard 4-3—7; Andover 10-8—18. Saves—Goddard, Compton 5-4—9; Andover, Kinsey 3-1—4.
Carroll 1, Salina South 0 — Taylor White scored the game’s only goal in the 12th minute, and Carroll is returning to the 5A semifinals for the second consecutive season.
First half—Carroll, White (Howard). Shots—Carroll 2-2—4; Salina South 3-3—6. Saves—Carroll, Goodman 3-3—6; Salina South, Bandre 1-2—3.