McPHERSON, Kan. — Wichita Bishop Carroll had the three-time defending Class 5A state champions right where they wanted them, until one costly mistake moments before halftime.
By AUSTIN COLBERT
The Wichita Eagle
St. Thomas Aquinas’ goal late in the first half proved to be crucial in the Saints’ 2-0 win in a state semifinal game at McPherson College.
“It changed the outlook of the game altogether,” Carroll coach Greg Rauch said about the Jaguars’ first-half goal. “All of a sudden we were a little bit nervous and panicked instead of composed.”
The goal allowed Aquinas to refocus at the break and settle into their offense in the second half. The Saints outshot Carroll 23-5 and felt the score could have been much more lopsided.
“I thought Carroll played a really good first half against us. We were lucky to get that goal right before half,” Aquinas coach Craig Ewing said. “We like to attack wide and come in. The second half we did that.”
Ewing admitted to be a little nervous before that goal. Aquinas had the wind advantage the entire first half and couldn’t capitalize and was having trouble getting into the flow of its offense.
Without the late goal in the first half, it could have been a much different game.
“It was really big because we were going with the wind all half and we hadn’t scored yet,” Aquinas forward Jamie Kutey said. “Molly (Schmidt) made a really good play. She had two tackles in the midfield and she kind of played it up in the air. The defender flicked it, and I just ran into it and took a touch around the keeper and hit it in.”
The first half was neck and neck until the final moments. The ball spent a lot more time in the air than Ewing would have liked, and Carroll’s physicality got into the mind of the Saints’ players.
“I thought they did a good job on us. They were physical,” Ewing said. “I probably complained about it during the game, but I think it’s good that you play like that.”
Aquinas did a better job of keeping the ball on the ground in the second half. The Saints controlled the entire half and were never threatened.
The Saints will play Valley Center, 20-0, in today’s championship game.