There’s a good chance when Newton girls soccer coach Scott Jantzi looks back on this season, he’s going to be able to pinpoint the second half of the championship game in the McPherson Invitational against Maize South when he knew he had something special.
In year’s past, the 3-1 deficit Newton was facing in the game would be enough to cripple the team’s confidence. But not this team. And certainly not Brookelynn Entz.
Entz took the opening possession after halftime, dribbled down and scored in less than 45 seconds to give Newton the confidence it needed for the comeback. Forty minutes later, Newton had prevailed 4-3.
“All of a sudden I felt this surge and I just realized that we really, really needed to win,” Entz said. “I knew we needed a goal, so I just did what had to be done.”
Although the Railers lost 2-1 at Eisenhower on Tuesday, their 5-1 start to the season has turned several heads in the Class 5A region. Newton plays at Ark City on Thursday.
“I was very proud of the girls that day,” Jantzi said. “It felt like we had done something significent.”
Teams this season have centered their game plans against Newton to stop Entz, who is assured a man mark in every game and typically a healthy dose of double-teams to slow her down. The junior, who has verbally committed to Kansas State, has responded by raising her play even higher, as she had scored 11 goals already this season.
“I’m biased, but I really do believe she is the top player in the Wichita area,” Jantzi said. “But I don’t want people to think we’re a one-trick pony. Brookelynn is very, very good, but she does a great job of setting up her teammates as well.”
While Entz provides that safety net for Newton, the team does want to develop other goal-scoring threats to diversify its attack. So far Izzy Saenz, Taylor Edison, Aspen Olsen, Tamara Wilson, and Aylin Torres have also scored for Newton with Saenz scoring three goals in a 5-0 victory over McPherson last week.
Games like that have only improved the team’s confidence.
“We like when people overlook us because Newton hasn’t been good in a lot of years,” Entz said. “We like coming out and surprising people. We have a lot of girls on this team that can score and we just want to keep the winning going.”
Trinity’s Bell makes instant impact — It didn’t take long for freshman Maycee Bell, who is verbally committed to North Carolina, to make an impact for Trinity Academy. She scored three goals in her debut.
Adding a caliber of player like Bell would make any team better, but Trinity coach Mark Brooks truly believes that she was the missing piece to turn an already good team to a great one.
The Knights have won their first four games by a combined score of 23-2.
“Maycee was a game-changer for us and it’s really opened everything up,” Brooks said. “Teams try to take Maycee out of the game, but I don’t think that’s possible. Then we have so many other options that it’s going to be hard for anybody to shut us down.”
Trinity returned all-state players in Ally Henderson, who is verbally committed to Baylor, and Elise Alexander, whose work rate in the middle of the field unlocks everything for the team according to Brooks.
“It’s so nice to be on a team with so many athletic players,” Henderson said. “I definitely feel more confident than ever in my teammates and in myself, too.”
But what makes Trinity, who defeated Rose Hill 10-0 on Tuesday, so dangerous is their chemistry with seniors Alexander, Kaleigh Schrag, Kaylee Friedberg, Hannah Smith, and Julia Rogg. The Knights play Maize South at home on Friday, then travel to Kapaun Mt. Carmel on Monday.
“It’s great that we have so many offensive weapons, but we’re actually playing for each other this season,” Brooks said.
“Honestly, I think we all have a selfless attitude and we’re not going into games playing for ourselves,” Henderson added. “We’re playing for one another and that’s all we’re worried about: winning and doing it as a team.”