THS soccer loses another close one
Defense, communication show signs of life
Moral victories aren’t exactly part of Tonganoxie High boys soccer coach Brian Kroll’s makeup, but right now — in the midst of the team’s second three-match losing streak of the season — he will take what he can get.
If that’s a 2-1 home loss to Mill Valley, which happened on Monday, so be it.
Kroll said the Chieftains’ defense is just ahead of their offense right now.
“At this point, anything we can keep within a one- or two-goal differential, whether it’s for us or against us, is gonna be an improvement,” the coach said, “because right now our defense is clicking on every cylinder and our offense… the timing is off. I would say there’s almost not even an engine, if you want to use the analogy of a car.”
However, if the THS defense — led by Cody Martin, Zach Tallent, Marcus Titterington, Ben Edmonds and, sometimes, Matt Briggs — can continue to keep the team in the game, Tonganoxie has a legitimate shot for some victories in the near future. Through seven matches this season, the Chieftains (1-6) have only lost twice by more than one goal and two of the team’s narrow defeats came in double overtime, including a 3-2 setback on Saturday at Eudora.
A late second-half score by Jack Lopez led Mill Valley to a one-goal victory on Monday.
The match was knotted, 1-1, in the 69th minute when Lopez pushed the ball assertively up the right sideline before taking a close-range shot that was deflected by Chieftains goalkeeper Keaton Truesdell. Lopez then followed his shot, controlled the rebound on the left side of the box and put it away to give the Jaguars a decisive goal.
Mill Valley (2-5) scored its first goal of the day in the waning moments of the first half. With just five seconds left on the clock before halftime, Taylor Reinoehl took advantage of a loose ball on the right side of the box and struck it perfectly, sending it to the left side of the net to give MVHS a 1-0 cushion heading into the break.
Tonganoxie tied the match early in the second half on a penalty kick. It looked like Mill Valley goalkeeper Taylor Hunter had thwarted the Chieftains’ PK attempt, but the referee determined the Jaguars’ Cody Knight had entered the box before Matt Briggs took the penalty shot. Briggs was awarded another try and wasn’t stopped the second time around.
Less than a minute later, on the opposite side of the pitch, THS was whistled for a penalty in the box, setting up a penalty kick for Reinoehl. Truesdell blocked the kick, pushing it forward with his arms extended to his right. The Chieftains defense then knocked the ball out, setting up a corner kick, and kept MVHS from scoring on a putback.
Unfortunately for Tonganoxie, there were no real offensive chances for the home team in the second half.
There were a few opportunities early on. Matt Saathoff hit the upper right corner on a strong shot attempt in the 10th minute. Soon after, Evan Stilgenbauer had a chance from about 18 yards out but put the ball too high. In the 12th minute, Joseph Parino took the ball away from a MVHS defender and tried to put a shot on goal but misplayed the attempt. But that was about it.
Still, the Chieftains feel like their communication has greatly improved and aren’t focusing on the result from Monday’s match. Junior defender Titterington said the team is starting to closer resemble what Kroll is looking for.
“It stinks that we lost but we definitely did a lot better,” the newly-appointed captain said. “I think we’re more of a team now.”
Fellow defender and captain sophomore Zach Tallent said communication has been an overwhelming theme in practice and the Chieftains are finally grasping that.
“Why now? I have no idea why now,” Tallent said. “It should have happened a long time ago, but I’m glad that it’s finally actually clicking.”
Kroll was happy to hear his players and not just see them.
“They did more talking today than they did all season,” the coach said on Monday. “I would say that this is a total improvement on everything.”
Almost halfway through the schedule, with a week until their next match, Titterington said the Chieftains think this could be an important stretch for them.
“I’m excited to see how it’s going to turn out,” he said. “As long as we keep on going in the right direction, I think we can have a good rest of the season and we can get a few wins in there before the regionals.”
Now all they need is a more complete automobile.
THS is off until 6 p.m. Monday, when it plays at Perry-Lecompton, the team the Chieftains beat for their lone win so far this season.