Despite losses, soccer team remains positive, thinks wins are forthcoming
Though winless entering its road game on Thursday at Perry-Lecompton, the Tonganoxie High boys soccer team was feeling positive. Coach Ken Lott had seen his team make many steps in the right direction in its first three contests.
But, unfortunately for the Chieftains, they regressed against the Kaws, falling, 5-1.
Lott said THS (0-3-1) was flat in its third road match of the young season. And when the Chieftains, forced indoors due to rain, practiced at the Tonganoxie Elementary gymnasium on Friday afternoon, they were told as much.
The coaching staff lamented the way the team didn't live up to its potential and said it was the first time this year the Chieftains had played "old Tongie soccer," which was to say that the team took a step backward in the loss by playing like the team that went 2-15 last season.
THS did play to its potential in the first half at PLHS. And the Chieftains had a bright spot in the second half when senior Steve Davis scored on a cross from Joao Martins. But then the Chieftains started playing the Kaws' style - run and gun - in the second half and got away from what they needed to do to be successful.
The turning point came when PLHS scored its first goal of the second half. From that point on, the coaches were disappointed in the team's lack of unity. They warned them not to attack the game from an individual mentality because it takes a team to succeed.
Now the Chieftains have to avoid falling back into bad habits by taking forward steps and avoiding those giant backward steps.
Lott called the loss at PLHS "ugly," and urged his team to learn from it and move on.
"You've seen it. You've experienced it," he said. "Don't let it happen again."
The players don't intend to have a repeat performance. Lott said they played harder in a 5-0 loss at Bonner Springs a few weeks ago and Davis said if the team wants to get its first win, the Chieftains need to play the way they did in a 2-2 tie with Basehor-Linwood. Most of all, Davis added, they need to stay positive.
"The positive part is we're doing a lot better than last year, but the negative part is we're not playing to our potential just yet," he said.
But Davis said THS should improve as the year goes on because this group only has a handful of games under its collective belts.
"We're still getting used to each other," he pointed out, adding that the team's lineup is still in flux early in the year as he and other Chieftains have played just about everywhere on the pitch except goalkeeper, the position manned by Mitch DeHoff. "We've got a lot of talent, we just need to find everyone in their best position."
Junior Keaton Schaffer, playing his first year for THS, said the team remains optimistic about this season.
"We know we can win," he said. "We know we should have had a win against Basehor. We know it's coming."
What's more, Schaffer, who Lott called an emotional leader who wears his heart on his sleeve, said the Chieftains know why they lost at PLHS.
"Nobody played with heart," he said. "They wanted it more than us and that's probably the only game that's going to be like that this year."