Five straight shutouts in the Kansas 6A boys soccer state tournament propelled Blue Valley Northwest to the school's first state chapionship in the sport since 2006.
After falling short the last three seasons, the Huskies defeated Manhattan 2-0 in Junction City last Saturday to cap a 17-3-1 season in which they allowed only nine goals and outscored opponents 13-0 in the playoffs despite returning only one starter on defense.
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“I cannot say enough about the boys,” Blue Valley Northwest coach Rick Pribyl said. “The first couple games we had were not very stellar at all. We just started working one step at a time and kept improving, and to my amazement we kept moving up in quality of soccer.”
Before the state tournament, the Huskies went undefeated in the Eastern Kansas League. Their 7-0-0 record in the EKL included victories against St. Thomas Aquinas, which won the state 5A title, and Bishop Miege, which took the state 4-1A crown. It was the first time in EKL history for three schools to win state titles in the same sport.
St. Thomas Aquinas conquers 5A
At the end of the regular season, the St. Thomas Aquinas boys soccer team didn’t look like a state champion.
The Saints lost their last three games and had five starters out because of injuries, but as soon as they hit the state tournament, things started to come together.
With everyone back, they cruised through the first couple of rounds before facing a 2-1 deficit at halftime in the semifinals. They responded by scoring three unanswered goals to advance to the championship where they faced a 2-0 deficit and came back to win 3-2 with a hat trick from senior midfielder Nick Hagenkord to defeat St. James Academy in the 5A state championship game last Saturday in Goddard.
“It was really rewarding,” Aquinas coach Craig Ewing said. “You throw that all together, and that makes for an exciting and fulfilling state championship. We did it with only two senior starters, so we are a fairly young team that is going to return quite a bit as well.”
Aquinas finished the season 13-6-2 with a 4-3-0 record in the EKL.
Miege wins second straight state title
Bishop Miege returned only two starters from last season’s Kansas 5A state championship team in boys soccer, but that did not slow the Stags down.
They defeated Rose Hill 1-0 for the 4-1A state championship last Saturday in Topeka on the strength of freshman midfielder Marcos Gutierrez’s first career goal.
“The kids really responded to different formations and the system of play we incorporated throughout the playoffs,” Miege coach Joe Huppe said. “It’s a credit to the kids. They followed the scouting reports extremely well.”
For example, against McPherson in the semifinals, Miege didn’t allow a corner kick until the 5-minute mark in the second half although the Bullpups had five players who were 6-feet-5 or taller. The Stags knocked them off 1-0 to move on to the final.
In winning by 1-0 scores in their last two games, the Stags showed they were able to stop two high powered offensive teams that had combined for 182 goals this season. They were the 10th and 11th shutouts for the Stags this season. Miege finished with records of 14-7-0 overall and 2-5-0 in the Eastern Kansas League.