KC Christian shuts out St. James in state finals
St. James Academy soccer coach Rick Enna knew the Thunder did not see the best of Kansas City Christian when they faced off earlier this year.
But by the end of the Class 4-1A state championship game the Thunder knew what the Panthers looked like at their very best as they handed St. James a 2-0 loss Saturday at Southwestern College in Winfield.
“We always have a great game against them,” Enna said. “It always seems like we’re two evenly matched programs. It’s always a close game.”
The two schools have battled against each other since St. James opened in 2005. In fact, KC Christian has been a rival for all of Enna’s teams since his days coaching at Maranatha Academy.
Both squads dealt with a strong wind, but the Panthers had the advantage in the first half.
The KC Christian finally broke through with 11 minutes remaining in the first half when senior David Pool headed in a corner kick past St. James sophomore goalkeeper Shaun Boemer.
Going into halftime, Enna could see that his players were worn down from their Friday night game against Rose Hill.
“They tried hard, but didn’t have the same legs as the night before,” Enna said.
In the second half, the Thunder tried to press up on the Panthers, but they were unable to convert the chances they created.
After taking the gamble of pressing, KC Christian finally scored again when senior forward James Ryan cleaned up a rebounded ball with 6:16 to go.
Another factor for St. James was the constant burden on sophomore Steven Enna. After scoring 10 goals in the playoffs, Enna drew a lot of attention in the season’s final game and the Thunder had a tough time creating opportunities for him.
“They really packed it in on him and we just didn’t quite have the ability to capitalize on those guys over marking him,” Rick Enna said.
Even with the offensive difficulties, the St. James coach was still happy with his team’s overall effort and its ability to use depth to get to the finals.
“This is definitely our deepest team we’ve ever had in terms of talent,” Enna said. “We really have 24 players that have helped contribute to our team this year.”
This was St. James’ fourth straight trip to the Final Four, and that’s something that has become an expectation for the program.
“I think our teams expect to go to the Final Four and they know if they get to the Final Four anything can happen,“ Enna said.
The Thunder won the state title in 2009 and finished in third place last year.
St. James ends the season with a 12-9 record. KC Christian finishes 13-8.