With a 4-4 draw Tuesday against Olathe South, the Shawnee Mission East girls soccer team clinched the Sunflower League championship.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
It didn’t exactly come as a bolt from the blue, but the Lancers — who finished 9-0-2 in league play, including a 1-1 draw April 2 against defending Kansas Class 6A champion Olathe East — certainly weren’t favored to claim the crown either.
“It was crazy, but it’s just been one of those seasons,” SM East coach Jamie Kelly said. “I knew we had the potential to win the Sunflower League, but we lost Caroline Dodd to graduation last year and she was pretty much the heart and soul of the team. But what we lost with her, we gained back with Addison.”
Steiner missed the entire regular season last spring with a knee injury and was a shadow of herself when she did return for postseason play.
Now healthy, Steiner has scored 21 goals during an impressive senior campaign.
Trailing 4-2 entering the final 10 minutes against Olathe South, Victoria Sabates pulled back one goal for SM East, but it was Steiner’s tally with roughly 45 seconds left that assured the league championship.
As stellar as Steiner has been, Kelly also credits a revamped defense for helping spearhead the title run.
Freshman Adalaide Kline and junior Jessica Young, a converted outside midfielder, have held down the flanks in Kelly’s 3-5-2 system with senior Alex Milliard, who played left back as a junior, taking over at centerback.
“I had a few question marks defensively coming into the spring, but Adalaide Kline, Jessica Young and Alex Hilliard have all done a great job stepping up for us in the back,” Kelly said.
The Sunflower League title caps an emotional regular season for the Lancers, 11-1-4, who dedicated the season to Tyler Rathbun.
Rathbun, the Sunflower League player of the year for the SM East, died in an all-terrain vehicle accident Nov. 25. His girlfriend, Anna Marie Oakley, is a junior for the Lancers.
“All the emotions the boys had to deal with after the season with Tyler’s death also affected these girls, especially the seniors,” Kelly said. “Tyler always used to tell people, ‘Buck up,’ so we’ve adopted that as our slogan. They’ve really embraced it and it has motivated them to do well in his honor and for themselves, of course.”
Lancers golfers wrap up league title
By a margin of 90 strokes, SM East’s boys golf wrapped up its eighth consecutive Sunflower League title Wednesday by winning the Lawrence Invitational at Alvamar Golf Course.
The top five players in the three-round aggregate event were all Lancers in a thoroughly dominant performance.
SM East, which shot 297 at Alvamar and beat Washburn Rural in a tiebreaker for the tourney title, finished with 880 strokes, while runner-up Olathe East shot 970 over three rounds.
Senior Chase Hanna was the runaway winner for individual honors. He shot an even-par 72 to win the Lawrence Invitational and finished with a three-round score of 210, beating fellow Lancer Connor Knabe by 15 shots for the individual gold.
Knabe shot 225 to take runner-up honors with teammates Andy Spencer (228), John Sallaz (231) and Evan Bloom (234) rounding out the top five.
Olathe East’s Alex Springer finished sixth overall (235) and was the only non-Lancer to earn first-team All-Sunflower League honors.
SM Northwest’s Garret Allen, who totaled 236 shots in the three league rounds, finished seventh for the third-place Cougars (972), who wound up two shots behind Springer’s Hawks.
SM West grad earns rowing honor
Kansas State junior Allison Dorau was selected Thursday to the 2013 Conference USA Rowing All-Academic Team.
Dorau, an SM West graduate, boasts a 3.90 grade-point average in elementary education. She is a Mortar Board member and also belongs to the Kappa Delta Phi and Phi Beta JKappa honors societies.
Dorau is a two-year letter winner, who starts on the Wildcats’ varsity eight as a port/starboard rower.
Sunflower League boys golf
Team results: 1. SM East, 880; 2. Olathe East, 970; 3. SM Northwest, 972; 4. Lawrence Free State, 992; 5. Olathe South, 1,017; 6. Lawrence, 1,020; 7. Olathe Northwest, 1,024; 8. SM South, 1,049; 9. SM West, 1,067; 10. Olathe North, 1,135; 11. Leavenworth, 1,281.
First team: 1. Chase Hanna, SME, 210; 2. Connor Knabe, SME, 225; 3. Andy Spencer, SME, 228; 4. John Sallaz, SME, 231; 5. Evan Bloom, SME, 234; 6. Alex Springer, OE, 235.
Second team: 7. Garret Allen, SMNW, 236; 8. Alex Green, LFS, 241; 9. Zach Spencer, OE, 242; 10t. Connor Richardson, SME, 243; 10t. Mitchell Bolton, SMNW, 243; 12. Wilson Hack, LFS, 244.
Honorable mention: 13t. Christian Sheppard, OE, 247; 13t. Dillon Funk, ONW, 247; 13t. Colton Allen, SMNW, 247; 13t. Thomas Flick, SMW, 247; 17. Cole Hanich, OS, 248; 18. Brady Kaemer, OE, 249.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.