Archive for Friday, October 12, 2012

Chieftain soccer wins first KVL title since 1997

October 12, 2012, 3:49 p.m.

Updated: October 15, 2012, 4:39 p.m.

Come-from-behind wins have become somewhat of a way of life for the Tonganoxie High soccer team this year, so perhaps it’s fitting that the Chieftains erased yet another early deficit on their way to a Kaw Valley League title — their first in 15 years.

THS trailed, 1-0, in Thursday’s non-league match at Bishop Ward, but came up with a pair of second-half goals and improved to 12-2-1 on the season.

“We were playing Bishop Ward’s game big time,” coach Brian Kroll said of the slow start. “It wasn’t working for us. I kind of got into them at halftime and they woke up a little bit.”

Because the teams had already played earlier in the season, Thursday’s meeting had no bearing on the league standings. THS will finish the year at 6-1 in KVL play. The team could still finish in a tie with Mill Valley, which has one league game remaining, but the Chieftains hold the tiebreaker thanks to their 2-1 victory against the Jaguars on Sept. 17.

Lansing could have potentially forced a three-way tie atop the league standings, but the Lions lost Thursday at Piper, dropping their KVL record to 5-2 and giving THS its first league title since 1997.

Bishop Ward opened Thursday’s scoring on a first-half corner kick that took an awkward bounce off a Chieftain defender. The deflection gave a Ward player a point-blank opportunity with an empty net, and the Cyclones cashed in.

Kroll’s squad evened the score in the second half, when freshman Tyler Novotney crossed the ball from the right corner to sophomore Asher Huseman. Huseman beat the goalkeeper to make it 1-1 with 22 minutes left.

“It was absolutely textbook,” Kroll said of the goal. “Just like you would draw it up.”

Senior Matt Saathoff had a pair of free kicks late in the half, but couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities. It looked as though overtime would be necessary until THS broke through in the final minutes of the game. Senior Connor Kietzmann put a corner kick into play, and Saathoff headed the ball into the net with just two minutes remaining.

The Chieftains will wrap up their regular season schedule on Thursday against Leavenworth, which dropped from Class 6A to 5A this season. LHS is coached by former Chieftain coach Ken Lott. The Pioneers have just one win this season, but according to Kroll, they are a more competitive team than their record may indicate.

“I’m not going to take anything away from them,” he said. “They are a good team, but the unfortunate thing for them is they’re in a league with some great teams.”

A win Thursday would tie the school record for the most in a season, previously set by the 1997 squad (13-4-2). The game will serve as the Chieftains’ senior night. All seniors will be honored in a ceremony immediately following the varsity game, which begins at 4 p.m.

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