At one point this season, the Trinity Academy girls soccer team lost eight straight games.
This from a program that had just won a state championship the season before. This from a program with a string of six straight regional titles.
Losing at Trinity was a rarity, but losing this much? It was unfathomable.
“It was frustrating a lot of the time,” sophomore midfielder Ally Henderson said. “There was a point where we didn’t even know if we were going to make it past the first game in the postseason.”
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What kept hope alive was the belief that the competition Trinity was playing (Trinity is in Class 4-1A and played 12 of its 15 games this season against 5A or 6A teams) was preparing them for a run against similar-sized programs.
That sentiment has been proven true in the last two weeks, as Trinity, with its 6-11 record, is back in the quarterfinals for the seventh straight season, this time to face top-seeded McPherson (14-3-1) on Tuesday.
“Their record is absolutely misleading,” McPherson coach Chris Adrian said. “Trinity has one of the best programs in 4A. It seems like they’re in this game consistently every year, so we know they’re a good team. We’re looking at it as both teams are 2-0.”
McPherson is a side hungry for one more victory, which would mean its first appearance at state in the last decade and it would play on its home field at McPherson College.
That dream almost ended last round, as McPherson faced a 1-0 deficit to Rose Hill with 10 minutes left in its season. But Jessie Kynaston netted the equalizer, and then scored again in the first overtime to lift the Bullpups to this stage.
“I honestly do think that’s a big advantage for us,” Adrian said. “They really want that opportunity to play at state in front of their home fans. We know we’re going to have to play better against Trinity, but we’re excited about this chance.”
Trinity, meanwhile, is coming off an 8-0 thrashing of Winfield, a 12-win team.
Just as important as the win itself, Trinity rediscovered what it was like to genuinely have fun on the soccer field in a trying season.
“We hadn’t really had a game like that in a really long time,” Henderson said. “We have this motto on our team: ‘Playing for a higher purpose.’ It helped us so much this season to stay motivated and to look at the bigger picture. This season has definitely been frustrating, but I think now it’s starting to pay off.”
“All that matters to us is getting back to state,” senior Whitney Guetersloh added. “We want to prove everybody wrong and show that our record doesn’t matter.”
Class 6A quarterfinals — It will be a battle between the best of the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League and the best of the Centennial League to determine the berths into the semifinals of Class 6A, as No. 2 seed Maize (17-1) hosts Manhattan (14-2-2) and No. 4 seed Derby (14-3-1) is on the road at Washburn Rural (17-1).
Class 5A quarterfinals — Bishop Carroll and Kapaun Mount Carmel will play for a third time this season with a berth to the semifinals on the line. Carroll has won the previous two meetings, but Kapaun knocked off the Eagles in a shootout to win third place in 5A last season.
Kapaun (12-6) has reached the state semifinals 10 times in the last 15 seasons, while Carroll (17-1) is looking to make its fifth straight trip.
The other area quarterfinal features a league rematch as Valley Center (13-3-2) travels to Maize South (15-3), who won defeated the Hornets 1-0 three weeks ago. The Mavericks are looking for their first berth into state, while Valley Center was runner-up in 5A in 2013.