THS soccer season ends in epic OT regional final
Atchison The Tonganoxie High boys soccer team wasn’t about to go down without a fight.
Not after pulling off two regional playoff upsets on the road to reach a Friday final at Benedictine College Soccer Complex.
It took not just 80 minute of regulation, but two 10-minute overtime periods, a pair of five-minute overtime periods, a round of penalty kicks and, finally, sudden death penalty kicks for the Chieftains’ improbable playoff run to end with a 5-4 loss to Maur Hill-Mount Academy in a regional final.
For 110 minutes, neither the Chieftains, who won two road playoff matches this week after winning once in the regular season, nor Ravens could capture a berth in the state quarterfinals and with the match knotted at 1-1 — a score that held from the 39th minute — each team trotted out five players for penalty kicks. When things remained tied, 3-3, after the first round — Matt Saathoff and Jake Willis scored for THS, Brendan Hoffman and Alberto Teran Porras did the same for MHMA — it was time for sudden death.
First, Tonganoxie defender Marcus Titterington put the ball in the upper left corner for a score. Then, Esteban Rivas Solis matched him.
The next round pitted Chieftains freshman Evan Lott against Ravens junior Craig West. Lott missed high and West put one past THS goalkeeper Keaton Truesdell to give MHMA the regional championship.
Devastated, some Tonganoxie players cried. Others hung their heads. But first-year coach Brian Kroll soon let them know the heartbreaking result should help them.
“We don’t do this so people can hand it to us,” he told the huddled players after the season-ending loss, adding that even though the result stings, it should push them to get back to this point next season.
The match never would have reached overtime for THS (3-16) if it weren’t for a great bounce — and diligent officiating — late in the first half. Junior Chieftains captain Matt Briggs powered a shot toward the goal from about 35 yards out in the 39th minute. The ball slammed off the bottom of the crossbar and bounced off the ground. Initially, play continued as if Briggs’ shot had missed. Saathoff even combated Ravens goalkeeper Andres Torre Lima for the rebound. But the referee’s assistant saw Briggs’ shot hit the ground behind the goal line and awarded THS the tying goal.
Maur Hill-Mount Academy (9-6-1) scored its only goal of regulation a few minutes earlier, when Porras broke through the Tonganoxie defense and put the ball in the left side of the net.
That, obviously, was a rarity Friday night. The Chieftains’ defense stymied the hometown Ravens repeatedly. Titterington headed out and cleared countless attacks, Zack Tallent and Willis kept opposing forwards in check and Truesdell denied 11 MHMA shots.
In the final minute of the fourth overtime, THS was awarded an indirect kick in the penalty box that could have won the match, but a wall of Ravens defenders, as well as their keeper, thwarted a close-range shot by Saathoff.