When Maize South High School was founded nine years ago, an instant rivalry was born between the new Mavericks and the original Maize High Eagles.
Throughout the years, the two schools had the opportunity to play out their rivalry through various sports, but the two boys soccer teams had not gone head-to-head. The first-time matchup, Tuesday night at last, earned the moniker “The USD 266 Darby.”
Meeting No. 1, held at Maize High, is in the books: Maize South pulled off a 2-0 shutout.
“The game was really exciting because we’ve been going to elementary school and growing up with most of these kids,” Maize South senior Andrew Bliss said. “It turned out to be a great game and I’m glad we came out with the win.”
The players weren’t the only ones with close ties to each other. Maize South’s head coach, Rey Ramirez, also coaches girls soccer at Maize High along with teaching district-wide.
Regardless of his closeness to the Eagles, he knew those relationships needed to be put on pause come game time.
“Despite our friendship, whenever we’re on the field, that ends. We’re trying to win and do everything we can to get that win,” Ramirez said. “I think afterwards and beforehand we’re friends, but come game time, it’s game time.”
Ramirez prepared his players for the buzz of the rivalry going through not only the players, but the parents and fans as well. Coach and players had multiple conversations about how to approach the game, he said.
“I love it,” Ramirez said. “It makes a rivalry a rivalry, and it makes a soccer game a better soccer game when we have this kind of support and this kind of fan base.
“It’s all in good fun, it’s all in competition. At the end of the day, I think it’s a great school district, it’s a great place to be on either side of the aisle.”
Maize South’s Bryce Bowman scored the first goal of the game when he dribbled the ball in and past multiple defenders and hit a highly contested shot. He said he knew the stakes were high going into the game, so his goal was important in setting the mood.
“We knew we had to bring our best. They’re gonna fight, we’re gonna fight,” Bowman said. “We set our hearts to win. We came out here to win and produce goals and that’s what we did: we played hard and produced goals.”
Sophomore Raul Gerhardus scored Maize South’s second and final goal of the game by outrunning the defender and slipping the ball past the keeper.
Maize South had multiple missed penalty kicks, along with a couple other missed opportunities at the goal. Bliss said those things will be worked on in coming games.
“Finishing would be a good thing for us to work on,” he said. “We had about nine shots on goal that should have been goals.
“Granted, you’re not going to get every shot on goal, but it’s something we definitely need to focus on heading into this next week.”