Enna’s third hat trick of postseason propels St. James into 4-1A soccer state finals
St. James Academy will play Kansas City Christian in the Class 4A-1A boys soccer state championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday in Winfield.
The Thunder defeated Rose Hill 4-3 in the semifinals Friday night. In the other semifinal, KC Christian topped Topeka Hayden 1-0, setting up a showdown of two northeast Kansas rivals.
St. James advanced to the finals thanks in part to Steven Enna’s third hat trick of the postseason. He has 10 goals in the postseason and has been the benefactor of being in the right place at the right time.
He provided a spark for the Thunder and led a team effort, coach Rick Enna said.
“I have been proud of our team,” coach Enna said. “They moved the ball all the way. It was a team effort. Our opportunities were created from a number of different angles. We attacked from different sides.
“The fact that he ended up on end of those goals, is due to the fact that he was in the right place at the right time. Everyone on the field stepped up in a big way.”
While the final score indicates it was a one-goal game, the Thunder were in control most of the contest.
St. James led 3-0 at the end of 65 minutes play. The Thunder controlled the first half by winning most of the game’s 50/50 balls. The team did not make a lot of mistakes and switched the field well to set up the offense.
“We scored three goals in the half and could have had four or five,” coach Enna said.
On the first goal, Steven Enna pushed the ball to Ian Deggendorf who made a great finish for the score.
For the second goal, Austin Murrell headed the ball to Enna who took made one touch on the ball and chipped it over the keeper.
On the third goal, Enna received a pass at the top of 18-yard box. He made a move past a defender and buried a goal.
St. James led 3-0 with 13 minutes remaining when the momentum shifted. Rose Hill scored on a free kick from 50 yards out.
“It became a physical game and the referees allowed it,” coach Enna said. “It remained physical the rest of game.”
Rose Hill scored its second goal after the St. James defense was unable to clear the ball from the box.
With the score 3-2 in the second half, Enna kicked a long ball from about 25 yards out that went just above the goalkeepers outstretched hands and hit the back of the net.
St. James led 4-2 and looked to be in control of the game, but Rose Hill tacked on another goal off of a deflection after a corner kick with three minutes to go. St. James held on the rest of the way.
“Rose Hill battled the full 80 minutes, they picked up the intensity and they fought hard,” coach Enna said. “We expect nothing less tomorrow against our rivals Kansas City Christian.”
Enna said he is proud of how his team is playing late in the season. The Thunder did a nice job of stepping up their performance against Rose Hill, he said.
This is the team’s fourth consecutive year in the Final Four. The Thunder won the state title in 2009 and finished in third place last year.
St. James and Kansas City Christian played earlier in the season.
“We played Kansas City Christian earlier and not at top of their game,” he said. “They are much better than the team we played. That win has zero bearing on tomorrow’s game. It’ll be a great game with two evenly matched teams. I think no lead is safe and anything can happen. I think you will see two teams leave it all on the field tomorrow. They are well coached and play so hard. It will be a great game.”