They went about their business in altering styles, but St. Thomas Aquinas and Harmon each won Kansas Class 5A semifinal games on Friday night at the College Boulevard Activities Center.
Aquinas, the defending state champion, got an early goal and rolled to a steady 3-0 win over Bishop Carroll. Harmon, in advancing to the program’s first state title game, was locked in a defensive struggle until a second-half burst gave them a 2-0 win over Andover.
The two Kansas City-area squads meet today at 2 p.m. to decide the state champion.
Aquinas, 18-2, had several chances to take an early lead before Luke Kutey found the back of the net off an assist from Pedro Arias with 26:10 to play in the first half.
“Pedro was making a run down the line and got the ball and kind of cut in and made the angle smaller,” said Kutey, the Saints’ leader scored on the season. “He played it in, and I was able to step in front of the defender and finish it.”
Aquinas coach Craig Ewing was a bit more hyperbolic about it.
“It was one of our best goals of the year, honestly,” he said. “That’s huge to strike first. We missed some opportunities early, but we came through with a great goal.”
Cole Younger’s goal from Blake Heying gave the Saints a 2-0 lead before Joseph Skevington sent a rocket into the net to ice the win with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Harmon 2, Andover 0
Harmon, 18-2, couldn’t break through against a sagging Andover defense for the first 55 minutes of its semifinal, but Giovanni Calderon more than made up for it.
Calderon, after having a couple nice shots stopped by Andover goalkeeper Bryce Kinsey, rebounded his own miss and punched home what turned out to be the game winner in the 56th minute. Just 32 seconds later Calderon lofted an arcing shot over Kinsey’s head on a breakaway to make it 2-0.
“We were surprised they set back defensively as much as they did,” Harmon coach Carlos Olivas said. “I told the boys to be patient and we’d get one to fall and then they’d have to open up out of their shell.”
Now the Hawks, who are in just their second final four ever, face an Aquinas team in search of the school’s 16th state championship.
“We know it will be tough,” Olivas said. “They’re great on their set plays. We have to keep playing our style of soccer and attack. Either way, we’re making history.”