Olathe East High School’s Ryan Dickerson and Andres Cooper are like peanut butter and jelly; burgers and fries; or, for the more health conscious, peas and carrots, on the soccer field.
By TODD ENGLE
Special to The Star
Good things happen when they get together.
They proved as much in the second overtime of the title game against Blue Valley North of the 32nd annual Olathe Soccer Tournament last Saturday at the College Boulevard Athletic Center.
Cooper curled a cross toward his favorite target on a free kick after a Blue Valley North foul.
Dickerson finished the play with a header into the back of the net, giving the Hawks a golden-goal, 3-2 victory with only 21 seconds remaining in the second overtime period.
Now with a 4-0 record, Olathe East won the Olathe Tournament title for the seventh time. Just as important, the Hawks avoided squandering a two-goal lead in the title game for the second consecutive season.
Down 2-0, Blue Valley North got on the board with 9 minutes, 42 seconds left in regulation when Keaton Mathews scored. Then Andrew Rohleder tied it on a penalty kick with 5:42 left after Olathe East goalkeeper Patrick Rydberg picked up a yellow card for interference inside the 18-yard box.
Olathe East generated multiple chances in the last five minutes of regulation and the first five-minute overtime period, but they all went for naught until Cooper served up a prime cross, and Dickerson put it away.
“We just knew the last couple of games, me and (Andres) have been pretty on track," Dickerson said. "We’ve been playing (together) since the seventh grade.”
Cooper assisted on three of Dickerson’s goals in a 4-1 win over Park Hill South in the tournament semifinal. Dickerson estimated that he and Cooper have teamed up for more than 100 goals in their five years as teammates.
Whatever the number, their formula is simple.
“I always play it to the same spot, and he always gets there,” Cooper said.
If Olathe East coach Terry Hair could have drawn up a play, Cooper-to-Dickerson would be at the top of the list.
“There are no more fitting individuals than those two seniors, along with the entire team. We have been bitten by an injury bug, and the bottom line is people gave their best,” Hair said.
Olathe East’s injury bug is more like an injury snake. The Hawks have had to deal with a back injury, a broken leg, an emergency appendectomy and a hamstring injury in this young season.
Junior Zac Marquess, who is out because of a back injury, was forced to be an assistant coach last Saturday. Times are tough despite a perfect record, but Marquess isn’t worried.
“The chemistry on this team is amazing. I’ve never been on a team that’s this close, this fast,” Marquess said. “(Winning the tournament) sets the tone, too. We wanted to keep moving forward.”
Olathe East has no choice but to move forward. With a bit of luck, the Hawks can do so with a full roster.
“I love their work rate and their team energy, and I think there’s a lot of potential yet to be seen out of this particular squad,” Hair said.
If nothing else, the Hawks already have a combination they can count on.