Chieftains soccer upended late in home opener
Own goal leads to 2OT Atchison win
THS soccer loses in 2OT
The Tonganoxie High boys soccer team's first home match at its new field ended disappointingly with a 2-1, double-overtime loss to Atchison Tuesday.
Try as they might, Tonganoxie High’s boys soccer players will have trouble forgetting this one.
The Chieftains were less than five minutes away Tuesday from opening their new home field on the southwest corner of the THS campus in style.
But Atchison tied the match in the 76th minute to force overtime and hand Tonganoxie a 2-1 loss in its home opener, assuring the Chieftains will remember this match for all the wrong reasons.
Enjoying a 1-0 lead with just a few minutes left on the clock, a THS mistake set the table for the loss. After Chieftains goalkeeper Keaton Truesdell knocked the ball away on an Atchison attack, the ball came out toward a Tonganoxie defender and was inadvertently hit past Truesdell for an own goal, tying the match.
In the seventh minute of the second overtime period, AHS scored on a corner to seal a victory.
Needless to say, it wasn’t the way the Chieftains wanted to unveil their new home turf. Said coach Brian Kroll, “not even a little bit.”
It wasn’t all bad for THS (0-3), though. Six minutes into the second half, Matt Saathoff battled the Atchison goalkeeper for a loose ball, took it away and put it in the back of the net to give the home team a 1-0 lead it would maintain for the next 30 minutes.
The way the Chieftains played early on, it looked as if they would notch their first victory of the year. Saathoff and Joseph Parino put shots on goal in the first half, while on the other side of the pitch, Zach Tallent, Marcus Titterington and the Tonganoxie defense helped Truesdell, who finished the match with seven saves, shut down Atchison’s advances.
By the end of the match, Saathoff had put four shots on goal, Parino and Conner Kietzmann had three, Matt Briggs had two and Evan Stilgenbauer had one. It was the most chances Tonganoxie had created in a match this season. But Kroll said it wasn’t enough.
“This should have been a five- or six-goal blowout,” the coach said, adding even more opportunities were never taken. “They’re afraid to pull the trigger.”
Between double overtime, blowing a late lead and losing the first match at the team’s new field, Saathoff said he and his teammates felt miserable.
“It’s just a terrible feeling,” he said. “When you score once, you think you have the advantage and then we kind of gave up there.”
Indeed, Kroll got after the players in the final minutes of regulation for their lack of hustle. THS captain Briggs said the Chieftains let up some and it cost them.
“We had it and then we stopped playing after we scored because we got cocky,” he said.
That false sense of confidence could have also crept into the players’ heads because Tonganoxie beat Atchison three times last season, Kroll pointed out.
“I called this game at the beginning of the season the most difficult game they had all year,” the coach said, adding that would have been the case even if the THS schedule was loaded with some of the toughest opponents in the region. “We have to get our heads right and get beyond the ‘We beat them three times in a row last year and knocked them out of regionals.’ No. They came in here to prove that that should not have happened.”
Kroll’s biggest gripe after the loss was the breakdown in communication, which he said led to Atchison’s successful set piece in double overtime. He said the Chieftains had “too many people going after the ball rather than playing their area or their spot.”
As the coach put it: “They’re still stuck doing it their way. They’re not doing it my way yet.”
To hammer home that point, he said the problem was the Chieftains were playing “me ball rather than we ball.”
THS has another home match at 4 p.m. Thursday, when Perry-Lecompton comes to visit.