For the third straight year, the Wichita area is sending four teams to the final four across Kansas’ three high school boys soccer state tournaments.
Wichita East in Class 6A, Maize South and Eisenhower in 5A and Trinity Academy in 4-1A are into the final four after quarterfinal wins Tuesday night. Here are their stories:
Maize South at Andover Central: Comeback to get back
Maize South was down heading into the second half, staring at not even reaching the state tournament after coming runner-up last season.
Instead, Mavericks forward Adam Dyer put the team on his back. Dyer scored two goals in the second half to send Maize South back to state with a 4-2 road win over league rival Andover Central in its Class 5A quarterfinal.
Dyer’s goals came within five minutes of each other, and his second - to ice it - was a belter from outside the 18-yard box. It was a left-footed strike that pinged into the top-right corner.
Dyer came to life after senior Cooper Joseph scored the equalizer with 38 minutes left in the second half.
Last year’s path was simpler for Maize South. The Mavs had to beat Eisenhower at home in its regional final and Great Bend, who was one of the Cinderella stories of Kansas, at home as well. This year, Maize South had its regional at home but after a shaky end to the regular season had to go on the road.
Even worse, the Mavs had to go on the road to face a team they lost to two weeks earlier.
Maize South returns to state for the second straight year and just the second in school history. Last year, the Mavericks lost to Blue Valley Southwest 6-0 in the championship game; the Timberwolves were considered one of the best teams in Kansas history. Southwest is back again in 2019.
Lawrence Free State at Wichita East: 18 straight wins
Sept. 2, Wichita East lost 3-1 to Dodge City. Since, the Blue Aces have gone 18-0 and reached the Class 6A state tournament.
East beat upset-minded Lawrence Free State 3-0 at home Tuesday to reach its first final four since 2014, when the Aces lost to eventual champion Olathe East.
Oddly enough, East and Dodge City - the only team to beat the Aces this year - are the representatives out of Class 6A West this season.
Junior striker Ivan Quezada opened the scoring in the first half as he was one-on-one with the goalkeeper and slotted it to the keeper’s left. Quezada was the City League’s leading scorer this season.
A couple of goals from Cali Gutierrez and Abdullah Ahmed secured the win.
Wichita East will travel to the Hummer Sports Park in Topeka and face the No. 2 seed out of the east, Blue Valley West, who won state in 2017.
McPherson at Eisenhower: Seventh heaven
It was the most lopsided quarterfinal match in Kansas.
Eisenhower kept its unbeaten streak alive as it throttled McPherson 7-0 at home to reach its first state tournament in school history. The Tigers are Kansas’ only undefeated team left and have beaten fellow 5A qualifier Maize South.
Eisenhower held a 3-0 lead at halftime over the Bullpups, who entered Tuesday with only two losses this season. That wasn’t good enough. The Tigers poured on four more in the second half.
In Class 6A, Olathe West beat Olathe East 5-0. That was the next closest margin of victory among the best teams in Kansas.
Eisenhower’s first trip to the final four starts with the back-to-back 5A state champion, Blue Valley Southwest. Last year, Southwest was a train on its way to the title. The T-Wolves enter state 14-4-1.
Trinity Academy at Buhler: Don’t call it an upset
Trinity Academy entered the postseason 5-11-0.
The Knights were the No. 11 seed in Class 4-1A West. They hadn’t won a game since Oct. 17 at Garden City. But all of those stats were deceiving as they beat last year’s state runner-up Buhler 3-2 in overtime to reach state.
Trinity’s state appearance is its first since 2015 and second since 2010, when it became the fifth team to win state out of the Wichita city limits.
Trinity’s record doesn’t reflect its quality as a team. The Knights played regular season games against 5A semifinalist Maize South, 6A semifinalist Wichita East, and Wichita Heights and Andover Central who made it to the quarterfinals.
The Knights will face Olathe’s Heritage Christian (12-6-0) in the first round at Wichita’s Stryker Sports Complex.