Tonganoxie soccer snaps six-game skid
Chieftains win first-round regional match
Facing what potentially could have been the final match of her prep career, Tonganoxie High senior goalkeeper Sarah Flaherty decided to give her team a pregame pep talk before the Chieftains took on Immaculata in a first-round regional matchup.
It must have worked because 15 seed THS won the postseason road contest, 1-0, on Monday against No. 10 Immaculata as Flaherty recorded a shutout, her fifth of the season, and the Chieftains ended a six-game losing streak with their season in the balance.
Coach Ken Lott said before the Chieftains (6-10) took the field for pregame warmups, Flaherty gathered the players, seniors and underclassmen alike, and encouraged them to play at the level they were capable of playing at and continue to play that way for the remainder of the season.
Her teammates responded and freshman Alex Bartels scored the only goal of the match, just the second of her varsity career, in the second half to lead Tonganoxie to a much-needed victory.
Lott said the team played up to its potential, and just missed a few chances to secure a larger margin of victory.
"We had more than a few chances to score and only got one in," he said. "But you just have to have one more than the other team has."
Bartels was assisted on the lone THS score by senior Alexa Moreno, who returned to the Chieftains' lineup after missing the previous three contests with a right ankle injury.
Nearing the end of what has been a long season for the players, Lott said most of the team felt tired, but they fought through it at Immaculata.
"I felt like we got up a little bit more for the game than we had been," Lott said, adding that the players found a way to play both relaxed and serious at the same time.
The coach added that Flaherty was feeling good, and that made a difference as well. Her teammates knew she felt good and that helped them remain positive.
THS secured the shutout despite a few second-half opportunities by Immaculata, which got behind the Chieftains' defense on a few occasions.
But Lott said Flaherty was "like a vacuum cleaner and sucked up anything that came close."
The Chieftains will face an even steeper challenge on Tuesday at Mill Valley. MVHS, the three seed in the region, was 12-3 entering the postseason and defeated THS, 10-0, earlier in the year.