Tonganoxie soccer wins playoff opener, 3-0
Chieftains soccer beats DHS, 3-0, in 1st round
Tonganoxie High's boys soccer team won its regional home playoff match, 3-0, against De Soto on Tuesday.
As far as Tonganoxie High boys soccer coach Brian Kroll is concerned, his team wasn’t exactly perfect in its playoff debut Tuesday afternoon.
The scoreboard told another story.
The Chieftains beat De Soto, 3-0, at home in the first round of the Class 4-1A Northeast Regional 3 playoffs.
Kroll maintained the No. 9 seeded Wildcats (7-8-2) had a better showing than No. 4 THS (10-6-1) in some aspects of the game, even though his team ended up on the right side of the win column.
“I think they out-possessed us, I think they outplayed us,” the second-year Tonganoxie coach said of DHS. “I think we’re just better at their game than they are.”
After more than 20 minutes of the teams feeling each other out in the playoff opener, the Chieftains got the first break of the match in the 22nd minute. THS senior Matt Briggs had sent the ball into the box on a free kick when it got deflected. Contact on the play by De Soto goalkeeper Daniel Goodin led to the keeper receiving a yellow card.
That meant not only did Goodin have to leave the match at that moment, but also that Tonganoxie would get a penalty kick.
Wildcats coach Darren Erpelding was forced to turn to backup goalie Ricky Pinedo in a tight spot — a penalty kick against Chieftains junior Matt Saathoff.
Saathoff booted his shot toward the lower right side of the goal and Pinedo guessed correctly and blocked the PK by diving to his left. However, the keeper couldn’t get full control of the ball and Saathoff secured the rebound and fired a shot over the fallen goalie to give THS a 1-0 advantage.
The Tonganoxie junior, who scored two of his team’s three goals in the victory, said he always aims for the right side on a penalty kick and, perhaps more importantly, he is always ready to crash.
“I’m just prepared for that rebound, to put it back in,” Saathoff said.
He was the beneficiary of a very different kind of rebound in the second half, with the Chieftains up 2-0. Marcus Titterington sent a cross into the box in the 52nd minute and Evan Stilgenbauer nearly put a header in for a goal, but it bounced off the cross bar and dropped in front of Saathoff, who kicked the ball in with a good touch on his left foot.
It was a much needed goal, too, Saathoff said, because De Soto was asserting itself in the second half.
“We let up a little bit and we shouldn’t have done that,” he said. “They got plenty of opportunities.”
On the verge of elimination, the Wildcats had to pick up the intensity. Despite solid possession and quality shots by John Williams, Parker Seaman, Taylor Phongsavath, Conner Berg and Josh Lahr, DHS couldn’t get on the scoreboard.
Tonganoxie senior captain Tyler Bartholomew said his team’s defense made the shutout — the Chieftains’ seventh of the season — possible.
“Our defense was just able to get in there and break it up,” he said of DHS possessions. “Marcus did an excellent job leading the team on that end of the field. He’s awesome.”
Kroll echoed that sentiment and credited the rest of the defense and junior goalkeeper Keaton Truesdell for their contributions as well.
“They got a shutout,” the coach said. “They were fantastic.”
After turning away four shots in the first half, Truesdell was much busier the final 40 minutes, often diving to keep De Soto shots out of the net. The junior finished the match with 13 saves and was thankful his defense wasn’t about to let the home team give up a score.
“They wanted it more than the De Soto guys wanted a goal,” Truesdell said.
But the keeper’s role in the Wildcats’ goose egg wasn’t lost on his teammates.
Said Bartholomew: “He kept us alive out there. He really did.”
Another key moment in Tonganoxie’s fifth straight win, obviously, was its second first-half goal. In the 30th minute, senior Joseph Parrino was pushing the ball up the middle of the field with a defender on his hip as Goodin charged at him near the top of the box. With perfect timing, Parrino pushed the ball past the defender and before the DHS keeper could secure the ball, Parrino slid and got enough touch on it to send it into an open net.
Saathoff said that was the most determination he saw on the field Tuesday afternoon.
“When Joe wants to get after it and score, he will score,” Saathoff said. “He’s a great player.”
With the win, Tonganoxie advances to the Northeast Regional 3 final. The Chieftains will play at 5 p.m. Thursday on the road against No. 3 Maranatha Academy (11-6-1), which defeated No. 10 Maur Hill, 4-1, Tuesday.