St. Thomas Aquinas won its seventh consecutive Kansas 5A state girls soccer title Saturday, dominating Kapaun Mount Carmel 5-0.
The Saints’ celebratory pile at midfield wasn’t a scene Aquinas coach Craig Ewing could easily envision when his revamped team finished seventh in early April at its Mo-Kan Challenge.
“This one might be the most remarkable,” said Ewing, as Aquinas collected its 16th state championship. “We graduated the library. For this group to re-create themselves, I am so proud of them.”
Aquinas, which finished 15-4-2, replaced eight starters this season. Four were sidelined by injuries.
But after defeating previously unbeaten Maize 3-1 in Friday’s semifinals, five Aquinas players scored against Kapaun — Caroline Romme, Anna Woltering, Katelyn Heying, Madison Janky and Meg Loughman — and junior Brigid Linder had three assists.
Aquinas, which outshot Kapaun 17-2, netted first-half goals off a corner kick and free kick.
“We had not done well most of the season on set pieces, but we got better at it,” Ewing said. “The willingness of the team to step up and get better means a lot.”
Kapaun, which had won 12 straight since an April 15 loss to Aquinas, struggled to foil the Saints’ crisp passing. The Crusaders’ comeback hopes were diminished in the first minute of the second half when Aquinas junior Katelyn Heying rifled a shot from the right side into the upper left corner of the net for a 3-0 lead.
“Our coaches told us, ‘It’s 2-0. The next goal is the most important one,’ ” Heying said. “We always want to come out intense at the start of a half.”
Aquinas finished in style, as Loughman, a senior, headed in a corner kick in the 78th minute.
“They’re just very hard to beat,” Kapaun coach Anthony Cantele said. “You almost have to play a perfect game no matter who you are.”
Maize 4, Mill Valley 0
Kansas signee Katie McClure scored two second-half goals – giving her 51 for the season and 164 for her career – as Maized secure third place.
Maize outshot Mill Valley 14-5.