Jay Holmes has seen quite a few senior days in his time as Maize girls soccer coach.
He’s bid farewell to some of the best goal scorers the area has produced and he’s seen some of the best teams go through his care. But nothing quite compared to senior night on Thursday with these seniors on this team.
Maize is no stranger to dominance, but the Eagles could very well be at the peak of their power this season. The Eagles improved to 11-0 and are out-scoring opponents 81-6 this season after eviscerating Class 6A’s third-ranked team, Derby, 6-0 Thursday.
So this finale for the eight seniors was a little bit more of everything: emotional, intense, and dominant.
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“I think it meant a lot to all of us because it’s like one big family,” Holmes said. “This senior class is a special one and I think they’re going to go down in Maize soccer history as one of the best teams we’ve ever had.”
What every opposing coach will tell you about this Maize team is it is the fastest team anyone has seen. Makayla Toth and Katie McClure terrorize back lines enough on their own, but the speed and skill of Cassidy Darrah and Ashley Zane in the channels are what give this team a gear that few defenses can withstand.
On Thursday, McClure found the net seven minutes in. Maize doubled its lead when Zane buried a header off a set piece, then Toth put Derby in a 3-0 hole at halftime by clinically slotting one away from the spot.
Toth finished the game with three goals, her 10th multi-goal game of the season to push her season total to a state-best 31 goals.
“I think the biggest thing with this team is we just have a lot of composure on the ball,” senior Bailey Dreher said. “We have really good touches on the ball, so that really helps with our possession.”
Maize’s attack generated nearly 30 shots, putting 17 on frame, and constantly tested Derby keeper Lexi Winkle. But the 80 minutes of duress Winkle was under brought out the best game of her season, as she made one spectacular save after another and even kept a penalty kick out.
“It’s tough when you lose a game 6-0, but I did feel like I made some good saves,” said Winkle, who finished with 11 saves. “(Saving the penalty) made me feel a lot better about things. Even though we lost, that made me feel 10 times better about myself.”
The win all but ensures Maize will keep its string of league championships in tact, while Derby (11-3) is still in good position to secure homefield advantage through the playoffs in Class 6A.
It was an emotional night for the seniors of Maize, who are now a combined 68-7 in their four years, and it’s one they said they hope to look back on as the start of something great.
“I feel like for our entire four years, it’s just been building and building and building,” senior Tanna Benefiel said. “This year it just seems like everything is falling together. I think this might be our year, it’s really exciting.”
First half – Maize, McClure (Zane), Zane (Dreher), Toth (unassisted). Second half – Maize, Toth (Darrah), Benefiel (McClure), Toth (Ka. Krier). Shots – Derby 0-4–4; Maize 10-7–17. Saves – Derby, Winkle 7-4–11; Maize, Bontrager 0-4–4.