THS soccer falls to Ward in regional finals
Bishop Ward 3, THS 2 (OT)
First half scoring
Mark Lopez (BW), 2:57
Second half scoring
Teo Subasic (BW), 21:32
Asher Huseman (TON), 17:57
Evan Stilgenbauer (TON), 11:35
Antonio Subasic (BW), 3:56
For the third time in as many meetings, Tonganoxie and Bishop Ward provided a thriller on the soccer field. Unfortunately for the Chieftains, though, Friday's rubber match proved to be their last game of the season.
THS erased a 2-0 deficit late in the second half, but fell to the Cyclones in overtime of a Class 4-1A regional championship game at Chieftains Park, 3-2.
Both teams came up empty on several scoring attempts in the first half, but Bishop Ward (8-9) took a 1-0 lead shortly before the break when Mark Lopez headed a ball just over THS goalkeeper Alex Kroll with 2:57 remaining. The Chieftains (7-11) got a chance to answer about a minute later when Evan Stilgenbauer crossed the ball to Asher Huseman in front of the net, but Cyclone keeper Jordan Jones deflected the pass, giving the defense a chance to clear the ball.
BWHS doubled its lead midway through the second half when Teo Subasic drew Kroll out of the net and punched it in. Huseman cut the deficit in half when he broke free about two minutes later, but his shot attempt sailed over the crossbar.
Huseman, the team's leading scorer this season, wouldn't be denied on his next shot attempt, which he fired by Jones with 17:57 left in the second half. It was his 18th goal of the season — one shy of his total from a year ago. Ward almost got the goal back on a shot by Antonio Subasic two minutes later, but his shot bounced off the crossbar.
Stilgenbauer forced a tie when he drilled a ball into the net with 11:35 remaining.
"We came out deciding we lost the first half, so we needed to win the second half," coach Brian Kroll said. "I think the light just came on. They did what they needed to do to win the second half. Unfortunately, the light came on just a little too late."
Neither team scored again before regulation, so the game went to a 10-minute, sudden-death overtime period.
Jay Willcutt nearly gave the Chieftains the win on a shot from the right corner with 6:57 left, but Jones caught the ball just below the crossbar. The teams traded possession for the next three minutes, and Antonio Subasic ended it on a shot down the middle from about 20 yards out.
The loss marked the final game for eight THS seniors, including Stilgenbauer, a two-year captain who tied 2012 grad Matt Saathoff as the winningest player in school history with 37 victories.
"Every year, there's always going to be that one kid who, you just can't replace them," Brian Kroll said. "I'm not looking to replace anyone, but I truly mean it with someone like Stilgenbauer. The kids just wants it so much and he lives and breathes it."
The regional championship appearance was the fifth in as many years for THS. With several varsity players returning in 2014, Brian Kroll hopes the Chieftains will keep Friday's near-miss fresh in their minds as they prepare for next season.
"It just depends on what the kids do," he said. "That's the bottom line. I told them 'that should drive you to start working toward next season tomorrow. I'm not asking for it every day; I'm just asking for them to be working on it."