Valley Center reaches its first girls soccer state tournaments since 2013
There are 12 Kansas high school girls soccer teams left.
The state quarterfinal matchups are complete for Classes 6A, 5A and 4-1A as Wichita North and Trinity Academy were bounced Wednesday. Here is a recap and the finished state brackets:
North falls a goal short of state
About halfway through the second half, Wichita North’s state title hopes took a massive undertaking.
Manhattan sophomore Sam Grynkiewicz raced down the the left sideline and delivered a flawless, grounded cross to fellow sophomore Reagan Geisbrecht. She tapped it in and slid on her knees as it went past North goalkeeper Itzel Lucero Diaz.
It was all Manhattan needed in a 1-0 state quarterfinal victory over the Redskins, who were fresh off their first regional championship since 2012.
With about five minutes left, North senior Nayeli Gallo went on one of her patented runs through the heart of the defense and got a promising shot off. Manhattan goalkeeper Gracyn Evans sprawled and got her fingertips to it.
Manhattan coach Mike Sanchez told the Manhattan Mercury he devoted sophomore Whitney Wilson to mirror Gallo all night.
“She was dangerous,” Sanchez said of Gallo. “Very dangerous. I would give her credit — probably the most dangerous player we’ve played all year.”
North’s magical run came to an end Wednesday but it didn’t come without some history.
The Redskins finished the season 14-5-0. They were potentially 16:33 away from their first girls soccer City League title in school history. They beat Wichita East on their third try of the 2019 season 2-1 in the regional title game.
They were a couple of inches away from going to overtime and potentially going to the Final Four back in Wichita.
Trinity turns back to Wichita after thumping
About 20 minutes in, Trinity Academy’s hopes of a second state championship in school history were four goals gone.
Topeka Hayden welcomed the Knights to town with a 7-2 result to end their season.
Trinity was hot heading into the quarterfinal matchup. The Knights were 11-4-2 and had just beaten east side rival Collegiate 3-2 in a thrilling finish. That momentum did not carry over, and it did not reflect some of the Trinity vs. Hayden matchups of the past.
Hayden’s 2019 state tournament appearance marks the Wildcats’ second straight and their sixth in the past eight years. They are seeking their fourth title since 2012.
The Wichita area will be well-represented at the state tournaments.
Valley Center, Bishop Carroll and Buhler all clinched their spots into the 2019 Kansas high school girls soccer state semifinals Tuesday with quarterfinal wins. Read on the results here:
A new story: Valley Center rewrites history after year of motivation
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, 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.”
Another chapter: Carroll beats Maize in Wichita’s longest-running rivalry
Trailing at halftime with a spot in the Class 5A semifinals at stake, Bishop Carroll girls soccer coach Greg Rauch challenged his team to pursue every ball and put the pressure on Maize.
It took less than a minute to equalize and Carroll scored three second-half goals in its 3-1 victory over Maize at home on Tuesday. The Golden Eagles (18-1) punched their ticket to the Final Four of state for the third straight year and the fourth time in the last five years.
No one embraced Rauch’s challenge more than junior midfielder Lauren Brooks, who didn’t need a goal or assist to make her presence felt.
“What a stud,” Rauch said of Brooks. “Sometimes she falls into the shadows because we have two 20-plus goal scorers, but Lauren is an absolute motor and workhorse for us. She set the tone that second half, ‘Every ball you have, I’m going to contest. We’re going to take it to you.’”
Brooks was a wrecking ball in the middle of the field, pressuring Maize into turnovers and winning 1-on-1 battles that helped spring attacks for Carroll.
“I looked across from me on the field and I said, ‘Whatever happens, I’m going to beat her,’” Brooks said.
Carroll needed that type of attitude after Maize, behind its own midfield engines in Cammie Davis and Kaylee Wilcox, held the quality play of the first half and took a 1-0 lead into halftime after sophomore Reina Cline chipped one past the keeper and it rolled off the back post and into goal in the 17th minute.
“We kept them out of the goal and limited their opportunities and scored,” Maize coach Jay Holmes said. “It was going perfect. I liked our chances until the first minute of the second half.”
That’s when the first 40 minutes of good work by Maize was unraveled in 45 seconds, as a turnover in its own third led to a free kick. Carroll’s Taryn Lubbers took the 25-yard free kick and lined a dangerous ball in, just in front of goal, to Carroll’s pair of strikers, Khloe Shuckman and Anna Lasak.
The ball collided with bodies and trickled out of the pile in the box and a foot race between the Maize keeper and Carroll sophomore Paige Stranghoner was on. Stranghoner arrived just before, striking the ball through the gap into goal as she collapsed from the collision.
“I saw it pop out, so it was a full-on sprint at it,” Stranghoner said. “Somebody tackled into me, but it was worth it. It got us more excited and we felt like we were back in the game and got our spirits up to get another one.”
It took another 22 minutes, but Carroll’s next goal again came on a set piece with Stranghoner involved.
This time it was Stranghoner who drilled a corner kick into the box and just over the head of her runner. But the ball was struck with such force that it made for a difficult clearance for Maize, which sent the ball skying high into the air and back toward goal. The sudden redirection caught the keeper off-balanced and the ball sailed into the back post for the go-ahead goal.
“Usually I do more of a lob corner, but they told me to drive it because it’s more dangerous,” Stranghoner said. “It could hit off them, it could go in by us. It doesn’t matter who it goes off of, as long as it goes in.”
Any chance of a Maize comeback was ended when Carroll midfielder Taryn Lubbers won another ball in the midfield and set Lasak free with a perfectly-weighted through ball. With the keeper charging, Lasak delivered a composed finish by slotting it around her for the 3-1 lead in the 70th minute.
Now Carroll will have a familiar foe in the 5A semifinals, St. Thomas Aquinas, on Friday in Emporia.
“The No. 1 thing about this team is that we are finally healthy,” Rauch said. “We don’t have anyone limping into the state tournament. It’s the 19 we started with, those are the 19 we’re bringing with us to Emporia.”
Dual swords: Crusaders’ boys and girls reach state
Buhler has done the double.
After the Crusaders’ boys soccer team reached the Class 4-1A state tournament in the fall, the girls did the same Tuesday with a 4-0 win over Circle. Alex Hutton finished with a hat trick.
The Buhler boys team reached the state championship game after a regional championship win over Berean Academy, sub-state title over Winfield and semifinal victory against Kansas City Christian.
The girls will be looking to do one better.
They have had an outstanding season, entering the state tournament at 14-4-0 with their only losses coming against Kansas’ Class 5A powers like Eisenhower, McPherson and Valley Center, who reached the final four as well.
The Crusaders will head to Topeka for state and will meet either Louisburg, who won its quarterfinal Tuesday, or the winner of Maranatha Academy and Bishop Miege.
Miege is the three-time defending champion in Class 4-1A and will be the favorite. If the Stags win, it would set up a rematch of the boys’ championship game with Buhler.