It's been 2005 since Newton has had a girls soccer team win a regional championship.
Even with Brookelynn Entz, a Kansas State verbal commit and one of the most powerful offensive forces in Kansas, Newton had failed to win that second playoff game the last two seasons.
Even though Newton had won 14 games and were hosting Thursday’s regional title game against Bishop Carroll, the players still felt like underdogs. After all, Carroll had won six straight times in these games and Newton’s trophy case hadn’t been touched since the 1990s.
It’s time for some redecorating.
Entz delivered her 34th goal of the season in the 52nd minute, then moved to centerback to close out a 1-0 victory for Newton over Carroll.
“Everybody has worked so hard,” Entz said. “We work so hard in practice. We deserve it. We really deserve to win this. And we finally got it.”
The arrival of Entz changed everything for Scott Jantzi’s program. The quality of play, the leadership, and the expectations. Entz adamantly believed a day like Thursday was coming, which made those around her believe something like this was possible too.
“She’s been playing at a high level for a long time now,” Jantzi said. “But to raise the other girls up to that level, that’s what’s been amazing. She is such a good captain. She knows the game well and I need another coach out on the field and that’s what she’s been for me.”
Thursday’s result was an exasperating one for Carroll, which controlled close to 65 percent of possession and consistently peppered Newton keeper Megan Akers with shots for the final 25 minutes following Entz’s goal.
Erin Akin whizzed two balls across the mouth of goal, but they didn’t find a teammate. Hanleigh Allen froze the keeper with a rope just outside the box, but it richocheted off the left post.
“It was an extremely frustrating game, in terms of possession,” Carroll coach Greg Rauch said. “But it comes down to what you do with it. Possession can be a beautiful thing when it’s a tool, but when it’s the end game then it doesn’t get you any extra points.”
While Carroll may have had a larger share of the ball, it was Newton that found brilliance with the possession it had.
The game-winner was actually set up earlier in the game, when Entz begged Jantzi to move her further up the field than her usual role as attacking midfielder.
“I could feel a goal was coming,” Entz said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but sometimes you just have a feeling.”
Then the moment came in the 52nd minute when Aylin Torres won a ball in the midfield, glanced up to see Entz making a diagonal run with a lone defender, and sent a ball that was perfectly weighted to create a foot race between Entz and the charging Carroll goalkeeper.
They met at the ball simultaneously, 10 yards outside of the box, the ball careening to the side with Entz recovering and possessing the composure to carefully slot it into the back of the open net from a side angle.
“Brookelynn is amazing,” Torres said. “Any ball you give her, she’s going to do something with it. She makes things happen.”
Finally, Newton had arrived.
“We’ve been trying to get to this spot for the last three years,” Entz said. “We wanted to be here and we wanted our shot, and we finally got it. This is so amazing.”
Second half–Newton, Entz (Torres). Shots–Carroll 2-7–9, Newton 0-2–2. Saves–Carroll, McCorry 0-2–2; Newton, Akers 2-7–9.