Fueled by dejection from the previous season, Mark VanLandingham propelled the Olathe East High School boys soccer team to a Kansas Class 6A state championship during the fall season.
It was a highlight for VanLandingham and the Hawks, who in 2013 headed to Junction City with a sparkling 19-0-0 record, but were defeated by Manhattan, 2-0, in the state semifinals.
“I just remember being so close and wanting it so bad,” said VanLandingham, The Star’s All-Metro boys soccer player of the year. “I had a terrible game when we lost, so every postseason game this year I knew I had to be there and had to perform.”
He lifted the Hawks to the most recent title, with goals in the team’s semifinals and championship matches.
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The Hawks finished the season 19-1-0, with 17 goals and five assists from VanLandingham.
“He won balls in the middle third by playing good defense, and then he would link accurate passes to our target strikers up top,” Olathe East coach Terry Hair said. “He is explosive off of the dribble and could shoot from anywhere, as witnessed in the state championship game.”
VanLandingham, who has not decided yet on a college, was also selected the Kansas Class 6A All-State Offensive Player of the Year by the Kansas Soccer Coaches Association.
The Star’s All-Metro boys soccer team
Pedro Castro, Barstow, senior. The Missouri Class 1 player of the year scored 21 goals and added nine assists, while helping the Knights win the state championship.
Trevor Cissell, St. Pius X, junior. The two-time all-state selection scored 46 goals and added 12 assists for the Warriors, who finished third in Missouri Class 2.
Trevor Kerns, Blue Valley Northwest, senior. The Eastern Kansas League Offensive Player of the Year scored a program-best 22 goals this season. He also recorded 11 assists, which ranks third all-time for the Huskies.
Jacob Weaver, Blue Valley Southwest, junior. The Kansas Class 5A All-State Offensive Player of the Year had 15 goals and three assists for the Timberwolves.
Robert Dewitt, Rockhurst, senior. The All-American two-way midfielder paced Rockhurst to another Missouri state final four appearance, with 10 goals and 11 assists.
Dalton Souder, Lee’s Summit, senior. The Missouri Class 4 defensive player of the year moved to midfielder midway through the season, igniting the Tigers’ state-championship run. A Furman commit, Souder had 15 goals and seven assists.
Mark VanLandingham, Olathe East, senior. The Kansas Class 6A All-State Offensive Player of the Year scored 17 goals and recorded five assists in 21 games for the Hawks, who won the state championship.
Matthew Holland, St. Thomas Aquinas, senior. The Kansas Class 5A All-State Defensive Player of the Year helped the Saints record 14 shutouts in 21 games. He was also tabbed as an NSCAA All-American.
Seth Hudson, Park Hill South, junior. The Suburban Red Conference defender of the year paced a defense that recorded 18 shutouts and allowed only 0.5 goals per game. He added four goals and seven assists.
Zac Marquess, Olathe East, senior. The two-time Sunflower League Defender of the Year paced the Hawks, who notched 11 shutouts in league play. He also provided support on offense, where he scored eight goals and added two assists.
Romen Pena, Lee’s Summit, senior. The 6-foot-4 goalkeeper had 21 wins, 11 shutouts and a school-record 0.79 goals-against average. After shutting out Chaminade in the state final, he converted the game-winning penalty kick.