Archive for Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sorrentino: THS soccer ends season with scoring extravaganza

October 17, 2007

Finishing any regular season with a 2-14 record is nothing to boast about.

By all accounts, the Tonganoxie High soccer team had a disappointing regular season and struggled to score goals.

But what the Chieftains have done in their last three games deserves praise.

Before I get into the excitement of the final three games, it's worth mentioning what THS looked like before that time. Here's a hint: It wasn't good.

Tonganoxie lost its first 13 games of 2007. Opponents shut out the Chieftains nine times. Tonganoxie only put six goals into the net in those 13 games.

Oct. 8 was the turning point -- albeit a late one -- in the THS soccer season. Tonganoxie defeated Immaculata, 5-0, on the road. Most people who follow the Kaw Valley League are well aware of Immaculata's difficulty in competing in KVL athletics. In fact, before the Oct. 8 tilt, neither Tonganoxie nor Immaculata had won a soccer game this season.

Tonganoxie proved Oct. 8 wasn't a case of simply beating a poor team.

Two days later, Tonganoxie went on one of the most exciting scoring sprees I've ever seen in any sport.

Eudora was the opponent, in a make-up game from Sept. 18 that was rained out. EHS took a 1-0 lead into halftime and actually led, 2-0, with 30 minutes left in the game. Here we go again, right?

Not exactly.

The Chieftains scored four goals in 14 minutes and 12 seconds and won, 4-2.

Just to put this into perspective, THS scored nearly as many goals as it had in the first 13 games of the season in a span of 14 minutes.

"I don't think it was anything I said," THS coach Ken Lott said. "They believed they could win this game."

Sophomore Preston Puthoff scored Tonganoxie's first two goals and tied the game at two. On the second goal, sophomore Tanner Newman blasted a shot that had a chance of finding the back of the net. However, the shot clanked off the top crossbar. Puthoff followed the shot near the goal and smashed a header past Eudora's goalkeeper.

Adding to the craziness, Puthoff hadn't scored a goal all season. In fact, he doesn't even start.

Sophomore Mitch DeHoff scored the go-ahead THS goal with 17:59 remaining.

"At the beginning of the season, after we were 0-8, we started to get down, but we've really picked it up at the end and have played a lot better soccer," DeHoff said. "A lot of it's conditioning. We're in a lot better shape than we were in the beginning of the season."

Newman was the last player to find the back of the net in the THS scoring parade with 13:33 remaining.

So here's the question for Lott: You're trailing, 2-0, in the second half. If someone were to tell you that your team would score four straight goals to win the game, what would you have said?

"We haven't done that all year," Lott quickly said, smiling. "Four goals in 15 minutes, much less the second half -- or even a whole game. I was really happy. The kids were happy on the sideline."

Tonganoxie lost its final game of the regular season Thursday against Bishop Ward, 3-2, in overtime. Despite the loss, it's evident that THS, which has won two of its last three games, is playing far better than it had in the first 13 games.

Next up is regionals Oct. 22-27. It couldn't come at a better time for Tonganoxie.

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