Boys soccer roundup: MVHS wins, SJA ties in season openers
Mill Valley and St. James Academy's boys soccer teams both played their season opener Friday, while Shawnee Mission Northwest 's first match against SM South was postponed due to inclement weather.
Here is a recap of the Jaguars and Thunder's opening match of the 2016 campaign.
MVHS outlasts Gardner-Edgerton, 3-2
Jaguar senior Jansen McCabe broke the 2-2 tie with 13 minutes to play with the game-winning goal to push Mill Valley past Gardner-Edgerton.
The Jaguars never trailed the Blazers. Junior Brent Stevenson put the Jaguars on the board first with 15 minutes remaining before the break, but the match was deadlocked at 1-1 at halftime.
Mill Valley senior Adam Grube then found the back the net to put the Jaguars back in front before the Blazers again got an equalizer.
McCabe's game-winner clinched the victory for the Jaguars over the fellow new Eastern Kansas League opponent.
The Jaguars will play of the road again at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when they take on SM North. The match will be the first of the season for the Indians.
St. James, Aquinas play to rain-shortened 2-2 tie
The Thunder held a 2-1 advantage over St. Thomas Aquinas at halftime, but a quick goal by the Saints five minutes into the second half, and inclement weather that arrived just a couple of minutes later forced St. James to settle for a 2-2 draw.
"In many stretches of the first half, we were the better team, and that was very encouraging," St. James coach Rick Enna said in a phone interview.
St. James struck first after Aquinas committed a foul in the 18-yard box to award a penalty kick to the Thunder. Senior Luke Schaefer stepped up to convert the PK to give the Thunder a 1-0 lead.
Aquinas was able to pull even a couple of minutes later after scoring off of a corner kick with a goal from Matt Ewert.
"They sent a ball into the box and scored on a set play where we really failed to defend well," Enna said.
The Thunder retook the lead on a set piece of their own, which Schaefer was also right in the middle of. Schaefer got the first touch on a long throw-in from junior Grant Huerter, and headed the ball across the box. Freshman Francis Nguyen did the rest by putting it between the pipes.
The Saints and Thunder returned to the pitch after a shortened halftime due to the storms that were quickly approaching. Enna felt that his team looked fatigue as the second half began, and thought it showed when Aquinas' Sam Gasparovich pulled the Saints level at 2-2.
"I don't think that was to our advantage. I think our guys probably needed a little more time to refocus," Enna said. "We started a little flat in the second half, and Aquinas came out the aggressor. For the first five minutes of the second half, I felt they were the stronger team."
Although Enna was pleased with the way his team competed against the 2015 Class 5A state runner-up, he was disappointed that the full 80 minutes could not be played. The match had three lightning delays before finally being called for good with an official 2-2 final.
"The first lightning delay, there was some debate as to whether it was even in our area and coming our way," Enna said. "It turned out that it was lightning that had already passed us. If we would have avoided that first lightning delay, we would have got the game in."
Enna was encouraged with the Thunder's effort in their first game, and is looking forward to playing the Saints and the rest of the Eastern Kansas League in the future.
"They represent the standard for high school soccer over the last 15-20 years," Enna said of Aquinas.
"With us being the new kid on the block, we have always gauged our progress by our ability to compete against them, and I think the gap has slowly narrowed over the last few years."
The Thunder will play next at 5 p.m. Tuesday against Kansas City Christian at Blue Valley West.
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