Valley Center reaches its first girls soccer state tournaments since 2013
On Tuesday’s bus ride to McPherson, Kyrah Klumpp played Spiderman.
The Hornets tossed water bottles past her, and the Valley Center sophomore goalkeeper acted to spit webs from her wrists, saving the bottles from going past. She did a lot of the same in the Hornets’ Class 5A state quarterfinal against McPherson.
About midway through the first half, Klumpp sprawled to her right to save a 35-yard free kick from McPherson senior Hannah Hageman. The shot was set to soar into the top right corner, but Klumpp punched with two hands and it carried over the crossbar.
The save proved pivotal as the Hornets went on to beat McPherson 1-0 to reach their first state tournament since 2013.
“When I saw where the ballw as, I thought she was going to cross it in,” Klumpp said. “I was in shock when I saw her strike it. My adrenaline was just running. It happened all in a split second.”
Valley Center’s season ended a year ago Tuesday. May 22, 2018, the third Tuesday in May, Bishop Carroll beat the Hornets on their home field after 110 minutes of soccer and penalty kicks. Heading into the 2019 season, the Hornets posted an article form the loss in their locker room.
Coach Steen Danielsen said the article is still pinned up, so for his seniors, Tuesday meant almost everything.
“My first year as coach, we got here, and I was young and dumb; I didn’t realize how hard it is to be in this game,” Danielsen said. “We’ve been fighting for it since this group were freshmen. We got a taste last year with Bishop Carroll. The heart and passion they bring, the focus and energy they have is why we’re here right now.
“The seniors are the ones organizing team building. They write notes to everyone on the team about how much they love them and why they appreciate them being on the team. They watch over each other. They solve problems together. They’re just a special group.”
Valley Center’s lone goal came with about 10 minutes left from another underclassman standout. Freshman Ruby Aguilar chased down a goal kick. She sprinted down the left sideline, blew past the McPherson defense and slotted the ball to the near post with her right foot.
Danielsen said she did everything he has been begging her to do all season.
“If I could choose anyone on the field to have that moment, it would be Ruby,” he said. “We have been pushing her to be brave. She was brave. She went for it, and it paid off.”
Aguilar was quiet postgame. Her loud play got quiet when talking with the media until she started talking about playing for the Hornets’ five seniors and Danielsen. All of whom will leave the program after the 2019 season.
Danielsen has accepted the athletic director position at Concordia.
“I am so happy I got to play with you seniors,” Aguilar said, looking at midfielder Emily Breault. “I’m just not ready for next year.”
With Valley Center’s victory came McPherson’s defeat and the end of the careers of the Bullpups’ most accomplished group of seniors. McPherson reached the state quarterfinals five straight years with three trips to the semifinals. The seniors finished up an 82-15-3 four-year span.
Ahead of the loss, McPherson had the highest scoring offense in Kansas this season with 107 goals and a 17-1-0 record. The Bullpups hadn’t been shut out all season.
“What’s remarkable is none of these girls are going on to play college soccer next year,” McPherson coach Chris Adrian said. “A lot of people dog on McPherson because they’re good at a lot of things. That’s because our athletes do everything. You look at Jaycee Burghart, Michaela Bowers, Hannah Hageman, any college in the area would love them, but they are going on to play other sports.
“This was a great group of leaders, winners and competitors that came out and worked as hard as possible.”
Adrian said Valley Center just played a great game, that it was unfortunate it came down to one moment.
The last time Valley Center reached the final four, the Hornets made it to the 5A championship game. They beat Mill Valley 3-2 but hit a wall with a 5-0 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas in the middle of the Saints’ seven-year reign.
Thursday, the Hornets will play St. James Academy (13-6-1) in the state semifinals. St. James beat Spring Hill (13-6-0) 5-1 to reach state for its first trip in Class 5A in school history.
If the Hornets win, they could face Bishop Carroll in the first All-Wichita area championship game in Kansas high school girls soccer history. It would guarantee Kansas’ seventh title outside of the Kansas City area in 57 tries. More important to Valley Center, it would be a rematch of last year’s state quarterfinal.
Breault has been through the heartbreak of not only last season’s Carroll loss but two other season-ending defeats, too. She said to break through and make school history with a trip to state is a special feeling.
“It’s overwhelming; it’s surreal,” Breault said. “As those last seconds were running off the clock, there were just smiles lighting up on everybody’s faces. Afterwards, running over to the fans, it’s just something you play the game for.”