Knowing the opponents: Class 4-1A state soccer
The only four Class 4-1A teams still playing soccer will meet Friday and Saturday at Piper High School for a shot at the 2012 state title.
Semifinal action will begin at 5 p.m. Friday when Topeka-Hayden takes on Kansas City Christian. Immediately following the opener, Tonganoxie will face off against McPherson.
The winners of each semifinal will play in the state championship match, scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday. A consolation match between the semifinal losers will precede the title game at noon. None of the semifinalists played each other during the regular season.
Here is a look at this year's semifinalists and how they made their way to state:
Northeast regional No. 1 seed (15-3-1)
Thanks in large part to a nine-game win streak, the Chieftains wrapped up the regular season at 12-3-1. After wins against Eudora and Basehor-Linwood in the regional tournament, they secured their first-ever state semifinal appearance with a 2-1 quarterfinal victory against De Soto.
Senior Matt Saathoff and sophomore Asher Huseman have led the team this season with 27 and 19 goals, respectively. THS has recorded seven shutouts in 2012, including five by senior and fourth-year starting goalkeeper Keaton Truesdell.
In addition to punching their ticket to the semis for the first time, the Chieftains broke the school record for wins in a season, previously held by the 1997 team (13-4-2).
Kansas City Christian
Northeast regional No. 2 seed (9-6-4)
As a result of a schedule full of 6A and 5A opponents, the Panthers enter the semifinals with a deceiving win-loss record. The defending state champs defeated Bishop Ward and Olathe-Heritage Christian in the regional tournament, then hung on to beat Baldwin in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals.
KCC defeated St. James Academy in last year's state championship match. Overall, the Panthers have won five state titles since 2002.
South central regional No. 1 seed (18-1)
The Wildcats have the best record of any semifinalist. Their only loss of the season was to Class 6A Washburn Rural on Sept. 6. Since then, Hayden has won 13 straight, including a 4-0 victory against Wichita-Trinity in the state quarterfinals. The team has blanked its opponent nine times in 2012 and hasn't allowed a goal in four games.
Hayden is in the semifinals for the second straight year. After falling to KC Christian in the 2011 semifinals, the Wildcats bounced back to defeat Rose Hill in the consolation match. They won their only state title in 2000.
South central regional No. 2 seed (17-2)
Despite entering the semifinals as the south central's second seed, the Bullpups have had arguably the best season of any semifinalist. Senior Nick Torres leads all players in the state with 38 goals and MHS has scored nearly five times per game in 2012. Defensively, the team has pitched 14 shutouts and allowed just seven goals this year.
McPherson was nearly unstoppable in the postseason, outscoring its three opponents by a combined 15-0 margin. It defeated Fort Scott in the quarterfinals, 6-0.
The Bullpups are making their first 4-1A semifinal appearance, but made three trips to the 5A semifinals from 2001 to 2007. They won state tiles in 2001 and 2003, then finished third in 2007. MHS dropped from 5A to 4A in 2011.