THS soccer defense shines in debut
A second half snafu kept Tonganoxie High’s boys soccer team from opening the season with a victory on Friday, but Chieftains coach Brain Kroll was pleased with the team’s defense at home against Baldwin in a 1-1 tie.
A foul by THS in the box 16 minutes into the second half led to a successful Baldwin penalty kick. Other than that, the defense kept the Bulldogs from scoring.
Kroll praised three players in particular: Marcus Titterington, Zack Tallent and goalkeeper Keaton Truesdell.
“Pretty much the standouts to me were the center three, starting with the goalie,” the coach said.
Titterington said although there were a few areas that needed work, he was definitely happy with how the defense played in Tonganoxie’s season debut.
“We contained the ball well,” the senior defender said. “They didn’t get too many one-on-one shots at the keeper, so that’s always a plus and a win for the defense.”
When Baldwin was able to put a shot on goal, Truesdell was there to stop it.
“It definitely makes me happy having someone as good as Truesdell back there,” Titterington said, noting the junior has come a long way as a goalkeeper since his freshman year.
Kroll said Titterington’s active approach on the pitch made a difference in the tie, as well.
“Marcus was Marcus, which was just freaking awesome,” the second-year THS coach said.
As for junior captain Tallent, Kroll said he looked better than ever. The coach was impressed with Tallent’s ability to transition from defense to offense quickly and possess and control the ball while doing so. Kroll said he thought Tallent knew how to do those things, but now he has seen that field awareness in action.
“Now I have absolutely no doubt that he’s capable,” the coach said.
Tallent said Tonganoxie’s defense still needs some tweaking, because a number of different players are chipping in on the wings, but he was satisfied with the effort.
“The defense played really good,” Tallent said. “I was really happy about just the chemistry. Everybody knew where everybody had to be, we were talking.”
The Chieftains had led most of the match before senior Joseph Parrino was called for a penalty in the box in the 56th minute, allowing Louis Joslyn to score on a penalty kick. Kroll said he thought it was a legitimate steal and he wasn’t putting blame for the tie on anyone.
“They caught a break and they capitalized on it,” the THS coach said of the visiting Bulldogs, whom he called a sound team that possessed the ball better than the Chieftains.
3 Starters unavailable late for THS
As the match went on, more and more players cramped up or got injured for Tonganoxie. Though he remained on the field, cramps affected Tyler Bartholomew’s mobility as the match moved into overtime. Matt Saathoff, who scored the Chieftains’ goal in the second minute, had to sit out most of the second half and overtime with calf cramps. Conner Kietzmann injured his left knee early in the first half and in overtime Evan Stilgenbauer was sidelined with an injury, too.
By the time the second overtime period began, Tonganoxie had three starters — Kietzmann, Saathoff and Stilgenbauer — on the bench. Tallent said that was tough.
“It’s kind of disheartening when you have starters out,” the junior said. “They’re starters for a reason — they’re out there because they’re the best at their position.”
Kroll was glad to see Kietzmann wanted to go back into the match after injuring his knee. It ultimately didn’t work out for him to play any after halftime, but the coach said the junior wanted to give it a shot.
“That’s what every coach wants,” Kroll said, “whether they’re capable of doing it or not.”
At 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Chieftains play host to Bonner Springs.
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