THS soccer gets in win column
Truesdell’s stop on PK leads to 1-0 victory
Tonganoxie soccer gets 1st 'W'
The Tonganoxie High boys soccre team stopped a three-match losing streak with a 1-0 home victory over Perry-Lecompton on Thursday.
It might have taken a lucky break or two, but the Tonganoxie High boys soccer team notched its first win of the season Thursday.
After losing their first three matches of the year, the Chieftains, who gave their luck a boost by utilizing their skills and hustling, defeated Perry-Lecompton, 1-0.
The play of the match came in the second half. In the 57th minute, with THS up a goal, the Kaws were awarded a penalty kick. The only thing standing between the visitors and a tying score was sophomore Tonganoxie goalkeeper Keaton Truesdell. As soon as the ball was struck, the keeper took a step to his left before realizing the penalty kick was headed in the opposite direction. Truesdell then recovered to dive back to his right, stop the ball and grab it on the ground before one of the Kaws could make a play on the rebound.
The sophomore’s instincts were right on, it turns out. Truesdell, who finished the shutout with 18 saves, said he was forced to react.
“I thought he was going the one way at first because of the way his foot went but he mis-hit the ball,” Truesdell said. “He got a bad hit on it and I just got lucky.”
Chieftains coach Brian Kroll called a goalkeeper’s job on a penalty kick the most difficult feat in sports, citing a story he saw during this past summer’s World Cup that compared the success rate of goalies to those of Major League Baseball hitters. On average, Kroll related, it is easier to hit an MLB pitch than stop a penalty kick at the highest level. He wanted to give a game ball to Truesdell for his “cat-like reflexes” and said the sophomore was one for one this year in stopping penalty kicks.
“That’s batting a thousand,” the coach said.
THS (1-3) scored its only goal late in the first half. In the 40th minute, just moments after captain Matt Briggs was moved from midfield to forward, he broke toward a ball that was played over his head in the direction of the Kaws’ goalie. With the defense slightly out of position, Briggs got to the ball first and made PLHS pay by winning the ball and putting away a goal without much interference.
Briggs said he had noticed his team had not been making moves on balls that were played past them up front in the first three matches of the year, all losses. When he saw the opportunity to buck the trend, he went for it.
“I got it and got a lucky touch on it,” he said, noting neither the defenders nor the goalkeeper were expecting it.
Kroll said it also was lucky that he had just switched Briggs to a forward spot.
“That would be a brilliant coaching move,” he joked. “It just paid off.”
The coach was happy with the play of a number of Chieftains on Thursday. He noted freshman wings Evan Lott and Evan Stilgenbauer were starting to understand their roles, while midfielders Briggs and Tyler Bartholomew have begun to gel and defenders Marcus Titterington and Zach Tallent (who was named a team captain) have picked up their play, making things easier for Truesdell.
Now that Tonganoxie has its first win of the season, Kroll said the next step is better communication.
“The ball movement is there. Now we need to communicate,” he said, adding the team’s problem has been its inability to communicate and pass effectively at once.
The Chieftains will play host to their third straight home match at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, when Turner visits.