Jags focused in early wins
Last year the Mill Valley High School soccer team lost an early season home game to Basehor-Linwood, the first time the Bobcats had ever beaten the Jaguars.
Early on in Monday's rematch the Jaguars let everyone know that this year would be different.
Mill Valley scored two quick goals and never relinquished its lead, beating BLHS 4-1.
That game, along with an 8-0 thrashing of Tonganoxie last Friday, got the Jaguars off to a 2-0 start as they began their defense of last year's Kaw Valley League co-championship.
Spencer Nash was one of three Jaguars to score two goals against Tonganoxie, and the junior forward continued his scoring spree on Monday, notching two more against the Bobcats.
He and sophomore Nate Friesner both found the net within the first 15 minutes of the game, giving the Jags a commanding lead.
Last year the Jaguars struggled to establish chemistry and consistency early in the year and one of their down games happened to come against the Bobcats, who caught them by surprise.
"We don't overlook anybody," coach Arlan Vomhof said of this season's approach. "This team (Basehor-Linwood) beat us here last year at this time because we did."
The Jaguars were much sharper this year, although they did have one slip up that let the Bobcats back into the game. During the first half, with Mill Valley up 2-0, one of the Jaguars tried to play the ball back to goalie Blake Elliot. The ground was soaked from several inches of rain, though, making for a very slow playing surface, and the pass didn't have enough pace. BLHS forward Stephen Millison got to it before Elliot and knocked it in.
The goal was the first Elliot and the Jaguars had given up this season and it energized the Bobcats a bit. The two teams battled at 2-1 for the rest of the first half until Nash created another scoring opportunity just before halftime. With three minutes left the junior broke free of the BLHS defense on the left side of the box. Basehor-Linwood goalie Matt Murrell came out and deflected his shot, but the rebound was put away easily by Mill Valley senior Josh Grimes.
Throughout most of the game the Bobcats had no answer for Nash's speed and he used it again shortly after halftime to put the game away. Exploiting the Bobcats' offside trap to perfection, Nash took off just as a long pass was lofted toward the box. He ran onto it for another breakaway and this time beat Murrell to the lower-left corner.
With Mill Valley up 4-1, the Bobcats were desperate for some offense, but couldn't get much going against the steady Jags' defense, led by senior Coady Andrews. They managed just two shots on goal in the second half and Elliot easily handled everything that came his way.
The BLHS game, and the first week of the season as a whole, turned out to be a showcase for Nash, who is fast becoming one of the area's top strikers. With he and a number of other talented veterans leading the way the Jaguars are gelling much faster than last year, despite the loss of leading scorer, Brad Huston.
"I'd say we've picked up right where we left off last year," Vomhof said. "We've got a lot of younger guys who really matured over the summer. They played some very competitive club ball."
The Jaguars next varsity game is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Lansing. The Lions were one of three teams, along with the Jaguars and Bonner Springs Braves, who shared the league championship last year. Lansing's roster features all-state goalie Alex Burton, who shut out Bonner Springs in the Lions' season opener last Thursday.