Archive for Wednesday, November 2, 2016

St. James soccer defeats Harmon to earn final four berth

St. James Academy junior Sam Enna celebrates after scoring what proved to be the game-winning goal Tuesday in the Thunder's 2-1 victory over Harmon. Enna scored twice for the second straight match to lead the Thunder to the Class 5A state semifinals for the first time since 2013.

St. James Academy junior Sam Enna celebrates after scoring what proved to be the game-winning goal Tuesday in the Thunder's 2-1 victory over Harmon. Enna scored twice for the second straight match to lead the Thunder to the Class 5A state semifinals for the first time since 2013.

November 2, 2016

— Ever since St. James Academy junior Sam Enna wasn't able to find his No. 11 jersey, he has had no problem finding the back of the net.

Enna — who had worn No. 11 after his brother Steven — has had double the fun wearing No. 22, as he scored two goals for the second straight match to lift the Thunder to a 2-1 win over Harmon Tuesday in the Class 5A boys soccer Northeast quarterfinals.

"It's just kind of crazy to score two goals twice in a row," said Enna, who also put the ball between the pipes twice against De Soto in the regional finals. "I don't really know what to do except move on to the next game and play my hardest."

Both of Enna's goals came in the second half after Harmon owned a 1-0 lead at the break. The Thunder out-shot the Hawks, 9-3, in the first half, but Gil Yanez scored in the 19th minute to put Harmon on the board first.

Between Yanez' goal and sophomore James Foster going down with a concussion in the 11th minute, the St. James coach said the Thunder had a hard time finding a rhythm in the early stages of the match.

"We just kind of went into a funk for a little bit. They took advantage of that," St. James coach Rick Enna said. "They played the ball to No. 20 (Yanez) up top, who is very strong on the ball. He made a nice move and a great shot."

The Hawks nearly went up 2-0 a minute into the second half when Alfonso Deah fired a shot off the post, but the Thunder dominated possession the rest of the way. The Thunder earned a corner kick following a counter attack after Deah's shot, and nearly tied it up with a near header from Zach Flax. While Flax was unable to finish the set piece, Sam Enna tied it a couple minutes later with 33:42 remaining.

"Going into halftime, our coach told us to just work it across the field and we'll find some openings," Sam Enna said. "That's exactly what we did, and we finally found some shots on goal."

The score remained level at 1-1 until the junior forward pushed the ball past Harmon keeper Carlos Reyes with 7:04 to play after Thomas Reece fired the ball into the box following a series of short, crisp passes up the left side of the pitch.

"We connected a few passes and then we played out wide and then he played it in," Sam Enna said. "I took a touch around the defender and shot it in the goal."

The Hawks were able to make a few runs in the closing minutes, the Thunder defenders prevented them from getting any clean shots off against St. James keeper Jake Dunsmore.

"It's honestly my defense — my back line," Dunsmore said. "I can't thank them enough."

Dunsmore and the Thunder had more than the win over the Hawks as well. The Thunder gathered to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Jake's mother, Karen Dunsmore, following the match.

"That's all she wanted from me," Jake Dunsmore said. "She was telling me all week that the best birthday present would be a win."

With the win, the Thunder earned their first trip to the 5A state semifinals. St. James (8-8-3) will take on Bishop Carroll (15-1-3) at 5 p.m. Friday at Emporia High School.

"Anything can happen in the final four. We've got great leadership on this team," Rick Enna said. "I thought that Luke Schaefer, Brady Manning and Jack DuBois — our three captains — they really stepped up tonight. They were phenomenal tonight. They helped turn this team around not only emotionally, but with their play."

The other semifinal will feature Eastern Kansas League foe Blue Valley Southwest (15-3-1) and Kapaun Mt. Carmel (15-3-1) at 7 p.m. Blue Valley Southwest edged St. Thomas Aquinas to punch its ticket to state, and Rick Enna felt that said a lot about the EKL to have three of the four Northeast quarterfinal teams.

"It's too bad that Blue Valley Southwest and Aquinas had to play in the quarterfinals. They certainly could both be final four teams as well, but you know what?" the St. James coach asked. "The other side of the state has the same argument. I'm sure they have great teams as well. We happen to be one of the representatives this year, and we hope to get to that state final."

If St. James gets past Bishop Carroll Friday, the Thunder will play at 2 p.m. Saturday in the championship match. If the Thunder lose, they'll take the pitch in the third-place match at noon.

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