THS soccer team gets defensive
While other programs must wait another week or two for their seasons to open, the Tonganoxie soccer team started its year Friday.
And what a start it was.
The Chieftains, taking on Mill Valley at home, fought through regulation play and an overtime before losing in the game's 56th minute. With about three minutes left in the second overtime, the Jaguars shot past an outstretched Luke Brown for the 1-0 marathon win.
Brown, though, provided a solid cover on the goal before that, saving 11 shots.
"He was phenomenal," THS coach Harold Pittman said.
The junior goalkeeper should be a major advantage on defense this year after Friday's effort against MVHS.
Overall, the season opener encouraged Pittman.
"They played above where I thought they'd be," Pittman said. "I thought we got a good start."
The Chieftains moved the ball well from the outside to the middle against Mill Valley, Pittman said. But, as any coach would, Pittman had concerns. According to Pittman, who entered his seventh season at THS on Friday, he's most worried by the team's spacing.
The Chieftains opened the season with six seniors and seven juniors out of 29 on the roster. Last year, the team lost Dustin Schultz, Kevin Colon, Pat Weyer, Chris Laurent and Matt Tate.
Brown appears to be a solid replacement for Tate, while key returners such as sophomore Chris Colon and junior Nick Volk should lead on offense. Defensively, Pittman looks for senior Jacob Walker and junior Derek Sparks to lead the Chieftains.
"The defense is kind of tenacious," Pittman said.
Tonganoxie went 8-9-1 last season, but features a different alignment this year. The Chieftains scrapped a 4-3-3 look for a 4-4-2 setup this season. Against the Jaguars, the new scheme designed to key on denying the midfield seemed successful.
Tonganoxie travels to Basehor-Linwood on Thursday, and then is back home Monday against Lansing. A road game against Bonner Springs on Tuesday was moved to Tonganoxie because of poor field conditions at BSHS. Results from that game can be found on The Mirror's Web site, www.tonganoxiemirror.com.
Along with its regular Kaw Valley League schedule that includes new conference member Bonner Springs, the Chieftains have a formidable non-conference schedule. THS travels to Lawrence-Free State, Ottawa and takes on Kansas City Christian at home in the team's regular season finale Oct. 24. KC Christian, last year's 4A runner up, defeated THS in a regional last year.