The 5A girls soccer state title game between the Saint Thomas Aquinas and Blue Valley Southwest was anything but nicely played.
Whistles blew, resulting in dozens of fouls. There were bloody faces and pushes galore.
But in the end, there was a beautiful moment when the Saints junior forward Jamie Kutey moved through the field before striking the state-clinching goal 20 seconds into overtime into the back of the net.
That golden goal gave Aquinas its fifth straight Kansas Class 5A state title with a 2-1 victory at Emporia High School.
“I found something in my heart to keep on going and push through the last couple minutes to score a goal,” Kutey said.
It was a continuation of Saints coach Craig Ewing’s soccer dynasty, but it was a new chapter in Kansas girls soccer, as the Saints became the first program to win five consecutive championships.
“I’m just proud of my girls, and when you win four in a row the pressure is enormous to get back,” Ewing said.
Ewing said his squad had beaten quite a few opponents badly this year, but that was not the case against an evenly matched team in Blue Valley Southwest.
“We’ve won a lot of games by comfortable margins and they (BV Southwest) were tremendous,” Ewing said. “That game could have gone either way.”
Aquinas started off the game with a goal in the eighth minute when junior defender Molly Schmidt worked through the box. After that, senior Kelly Sweeney tapped it into the net.
“I just kind of got lucky to be in the right place at the right time,” Sweeney said. “It was nice that Molly worked hard to get the goal for us.”
Later in the first half, the Timberwolves battled back using their size to their advantage.
A ball bounced around in the box off a few players’ heads before senior forward Sarah Murphy finished the goal in the 34th minute, leveling the game at 1-1.
“We have big strong kids,” Blue Valley Southwest coach Jason Pendleton said. “We win a lot of balls in the final third and that put them under pressure. We’re fortunate to scrap really hard.”
From there it was an all-out clash, with players from both teams clawing for every inch of grass while trying to move the ball up the field.
“We were battling each other, and you could see that it’s an intense rivalry,” Pendleton said. “It was a battle. It was an absolute gladiator-style battle out there and kids playing their tails off. “
Dozens of fouls were called with plenty more calls ignored by the officials, leading to a maximum effort that was needed for the victory.
“The kids played so hard for so long when they had nothing left and Southwest was doing the same thing,” Ewing said. “It was everybody giving every ounce that they had the whole game.”
The Saints came out victorious thanks to the drive of one of its stars, Kutey, who according to her coach has scored in each of the nine state games she’s played in her career. And she has next year to do the same thing.
But Kutey wants to make sure to enjoy this state title and to keep the state title streak going into her senior season.
“We just kind of roll with it,” Kutey said of the streak. “We work hard during the season and this is our ultimate goal to make it here every year.”