When it comes to choosing the shape of a defense, the decision to implement a sweeper is one that virtually every local girls soccer team has passed on.
The flat-back-four formation, which features four defenders in a straight line along the back line, has grown in popularity. But Eisenhower coach Brandon Sommer doesn’t mind being a contrarian.
Eisenhower is 13-1-1 this season, its most successful regular season, employing a sweeper in a defense that has allowed just six goals and registered 11 shutouts. The Tigers will conclude their season Thursday against Mulvane.
“I’ve got the girls that make it work,” Sommer said. “They’re just really athletic and they spent a lot of time in the offseason making themselves better and making sure they were ready for this moment.”
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Sophomore Jenna Boese plays sweeper for Eisenhower and her pace and determination to win every ball makes the team’s defense go. Maddi Douglass and Taylor Martinez are beside her on the wings, and Emilee Bozarth plays directly in front of Boese.
Stopping shots in goal is junior Kensey Arlt, who had a feeling a defensive season like this was in the works.
“I think the formation actually causes problems for other teams because they’re not used to seeing it,” Arlt said. “And then Jenna does such a great job that most teams can’t get past her. We had some high expectations coming into the season and I’m so insanely proud of our defense.”
5A region is loaded – Most of the time a 10-6 record is enough to earn the chance to host a regional championship game. Not this season in Class 5A.
There are already seven teams that have won 10 games in Maize (13-0), Eisenhower (13-1-1), Valley Center (12-1-1), Newton (12-3), Kapaun (11-4), Carroll (11-4) and Maize South (10-6). Goddard (9-6) could make it eight.
That means a team like Maize South, which played a difficult schedule and all six of its losses were by one goal, could potentially face a team like Newton, Carroll or Kapaun on the road in the second round.
“It’s crazy this season,” Maize South coach Marlon Rios said. “I think the competition, especially in 5A, is very tough right now. But I have a lot of faith in our team. I think we can play with any team in the Wichita area, it’s just a matter of us believing we can do it.”
Kapaun, which is undefeated in the City League, could potentially have to go on the road for a quarterfinal game.
“You look back at the Titan Classic and we had to play Derby in the first round of that tournament, so I guess you could say we’re used to it,” Kapaun coach Anthony Cantele said. “I think our schedule has been very challenging and that will serve us well in a regional tournament like this one.”
Because Valley Center (12-1-1) had a game against Augusta cancelled this week due to inclement weather, Eisenhower (13-1-1) is likely to finish a half-game ahead of Valley Center for a top seed in the region. Valley Center plays at McPherson on Thursday, while Eisenhower plays Mulvane at home.
Maize receiving national recognition – First, Maize climbed to the top of the rankings in Kansas. Now the Eagles, who are 13-0 and have outscored opponents 97-7, are starting to receive national attention.
TopDrawerSoccer.com, a popular soccer web site, ranks Maize No. 7 in the nation in its latest rankings.
Maize’s wins include a 10-2 victory over Shawnee Mission East, ranked fourth in Class 6A at the time, and a 6-1 win over Olathe Northwest, a team which recently tied with the top-ranked team in 6A in SM West.
“The team is receiving national recognition because of the results we’ve had against the ranked teams from Kansas City,” Maize coach Jay Holmes said. “The bar has always been set against the teams from the Northeast part of the state and we have done a great job of competing against them.”
Katie McClure (34 goals, 15 assists) and Makayla Toth (34 goals, 10 assists) lead Kansas in points this season.