What at the time looked like a meaningless goal for Rockhurst, couldn’t have been more impactful as it turned out.
With just less than two minutes left to play, senior midfielder Kyle Ruark lined up to take a penalty kick. While the infraction that led to his kick was sorted out, Ruark let his mind focus on the task at hand, and that was important because he promptly knocked the ball into the right corner and provided the Hawklets’ final goal in a 3-2 win over Vianney on Saturday at the Soccer Park.
The win sent the Hawklets home with the Class 4 championship, the program’s seventh state title. The Hawklets previously won titles in 1998, 1999, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2013.
“We take penalty kicks every single day in practice and I’m confident in my ability,” Ruark said. “They were talking and I was just zoning out what they were saying. I knew that if I stepped up and hit it the way I hit it every single day in practice, I was going to score. I just finished it off and it feels great. We all worked hard to win this and, to be champions, is amazing.”
Rockhurst (27-3) jumped out to a pair of two-goal leads Saturday. The Hawklets scored a goal in the first five minutes of each half.
Ruark set up William Crowe off a corner kick, and then Jacob Amey did the same for Frank Barry early in the second half.
“The goals were huge because they set the tone for the team to give us a good start to each half,” Barry said. “It breaks the other team’s spirit, which is also important.”
Vianney, playing in its first title game since losing to Rockhurst in 2010, didn’t quit, however.
Kamou Harris made it 2-1 in the 67th minute, and after Ruark made it 3-1 with fewer than two minutes left, Sansone pulled the Griffins to within one.
Vianney coach Brian Haddock commended both teams for a hard-fought effort.
“We’ve spent all season weathering through storms and trying to win games in different ways and this one was no different,” Haddock said. “It got chippy in the end there, but this team doesn’t quit. Rockhurst was on their heels a little at the end and they knew we were coming after them.”
The Hawklets outshot Vianney 7-3, but the Griffins still had a chance late in the game.
For his part Rockhurst coach Chris Lawson admired his team for being mentally tough when it needed it most.
The coach pointed to the last salvo from Vianney as an example of how just how well the Hawklets hung together.
“Our kids understood how important it was to keep their composure, it’s a state championship game,” Lawson said. “We’re going to get a team’s best, whether they lose 3-1 or 3-2. They’re going to push everything forward and you’re just going to have to withstand that and I thought we could have kept it at times better in the end, but this group battles and they hung in there.”
Harrisonville finishes fourth in Class 3
Just like it did in its semifinal Friday, the Harrisonville boys soccer team let a positive result slip through its collective fingers in finishing fourth, losing 3-2 to Republic in the Class 3 third-place game.
The Wildcats (25-5) jumped out to a two-goal lead as senior forward Seth Wiebusch tallied a first-half penalty kick goal before junior forward Connor Blentlinger scored early in the second half.
Republic (24-5) scored three consecutive goals for the victory as senior forward Dylan Brown scored twice, including the game-winner, and senior midfielder Trenton Roetto added a penalty kick goal.
Harrisonville junior goalkeeper Brody Pitts made six saves in the defeat.