Archive for Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Late goal sends Chieftain soccer to state

Soetaert scores with 58.8 seconds remaining

Emily Soetaert, center, scored a goal with 58.8 seconds left Tuesday against De Soto. The goal guaranteed the Chieftains a spot in the Class 4A state tournament.

Emily Soetaert, center, scored a goal with 58.8 seconds left Tuesday against De Soto. The goal guaranteed the Chieftains a spot in the Class 4A state tournament.

May 22, 2012

For more than 79 minutes, Tonganoxie and De Soto were in a stalemate on the soccer field. Both teams had a trip to the Class 4A state tournament on the line, but neither could find the net.

Then, just when it seemed overtime was imminent, the Chieftains got a chance. With time running out in regulation — and possibly the season — they finally cashed in.

Sophomore Emily Soetaert scored the game's only goal with 58.8 seconds left on the clock, propelling second-seeded THS (10-8-1) to a 1-0, northeast quarterfinal victory and its first state tournament bid in school history.

"This is what championship games are supposed to look like — up and down until someone gets an opportunity," coach Justin Seever said.

Despite spending most of the games final minutes on No. 3 seed De Soto's side of the field, the Chieftains struggled to find scoring opportunities. Nobody was able to break through until a collision near the goal left Soetaert with the ball and an empty net in front of her.

She tapped the ball in, sending THS players and fans into a frenzy.

"We'd been plugging away, but nothing was going in," Soetaert said. "I knew that, as soon as I saw the ball, we had to get it in. That was just amazing. It was awesome."

After battling the Wildcats (9-10) back and forth for most of the second half, the Chieftains got a golden opportunity to take a lead with less than three minutes remaining. Soetaert floated a pass over the outstretched hands of De Soto goalkeeper Taylor Peterson, but the ball skipped passed an open Emily Williams and a De Soto player cleared the ball.

That was one of several near-misses by both squads. The Wildcats whiffed on multiple scoring chances — particularly in the first half — as THS sophomore goalkeeper Emma Stilgenbauer recorded her fourth shutout of the season.

"Hats off to our defense," Seever said. "From the keeper up, we were solid."

With the victory, the Chieftains avenged a 3-0 loss they suffered April 5 at De Soto. The win is the team's eighth straight and adds to its school-record number of wins in a season.

THS will be the state tournament's top seed from the northeast regional and will face south central regional qualifier Topeka-Hayden (12-7) in semifinal action at 7 p.m. Friday. Hayden reached the state tournament with a 3-0 win at top-seeded Rose Hill.

"We're going to keep plugging," Seever said. "We're going to go down there and try to shock the world. As long as you can keep a zero on the board, anything can happen. We proved that (Tuesday)."

The other semifinal matchup will pit Wichita-Trinity (15-4) against St. James Academy (7-11-1) at 5 p.m. All state games will take place at the Rose Hill Athletic Complex in Rose Hill.

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