October 6, 2017
Roeland Park The St. James Academy boys soccer team is in familiar territory with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
For the Thunder, there is good news and bad news to go along with that.
After a 4-3 loss to Blue Valley West on Thursday, St. James fell to 3-7-1 on the season. The Thunder aren't pleased with their record, but they aren't overly concerned either. St. James had a record of 3-7-3 last year before embarking on a state championship run and finishing the season 10-8-3.
"I just thought we played really, really well tonight and that's what I'm excited about and that's what I told the guys to be excited about. I don't want the fact that we played a close game and lost, but I just think we're playing well right now," St. James coach Rick Enna said. "I don't know what that means for the rest of the year, but all I can ask is that the boys give 80 strong minutes. We made some mistakes, but we played 80 strong minutes tonight."
While the Thunder weren't able to come out on top in a second-half shootout against the Jaguars, Enna didn't feel his team put forth a losing effort. The Jaguars took a 1-0 lead into the break after a goal from senior Noah Mabry midway through the half. Mabry nearly put BV West on the board in the 10th minute, but he would not be denied on his second 1-v.-1 opportunity, as he beat St. James keeper Jake Dunsmore to a 50-50 ball and maneuvered around him for an easy tap-in.
The floodgates opened for both teams in the second half, though. The Thunder came out as a rejuvenated bunch after the break, and didn't waste much time in tying the game up. St. James was awarded a penalty kick in the 43rd minute following a BV West handball in the box, and Sam Enna drilled it home to pull the Thunder level at 1-1.
Enna's goal marked the beginning of a back-and-forth second half. The Thunder had three golden opportunities to take the lead in the following five minutes, but had one scoring chance halted due to being offside and two more denied on acrobatic saves by BV West goalie Parker Tinkler.
"We had two point-blank, should-have-been goals," Rick Enna said. "We were wide open 6 yards out and the goalie makes two good stops."
Tinkler's saves loomed that much larger for the Thunder when BV West reclaimed the lead in the 49th minute after scoring an own goal on a ball that deflected off of a Thunder defender.
"I really think it comes down to mistakes, not players. They didn't win the game per se," Rick Enna said. "They did win the game, but I thought we defended them well. Mistakes are going to cost you the game and I thought we made too many mistakes and didn't finish our chances."
St. James continued to keep the pressure on Tinkler and the BV West back line, though, and broke through just a minute later when James Foster found the back of the net to tie it back up at 2-2.
But in almost the blink of an eye, BV West not only went back in front but took a two-goal lead. Mabry struck again in the 51st minute and then assisted Tommy Sulentic a minute later to put the Jaguar up 4-2.
Mabry's second goal was his 28th of the season, and broke the BV West single-season scoring record that was previously set by Real Salt Lake midfielder Nick Besler — the younger brother of Sporting KC defender Matt Besler. While Rick Enna gave Mabry plenty of praise, he said a big reason why the BV West forward has been difficult to mark for the Thunder and other teams this year is because he has a lot of help up front in fellow senior Ben Sherwood.
"Noah's a really good player and so is Sherwood. They're a very formidable group up top," the St. James coach said "I don't think Noah is their sole guy. Noah gets good balls and gets into 1-on-1 match-ups and he's great. He's a great finisher and has some great moves. But I think he gets that because Ben Sherwood demands a lot of attention as well.
Although the Thunder couldn't completely recover from the two quick goals by the Jaguars, they didn't cave in. Sam Enna scored again in the 58th minute, and has been providing a nice spark for the Thunder up top in recent matches.
"Sam played well the other night against Blue Valley North and Sam had a great game tonight. He was a monster up there. I'm excited to see where he's at right now. All of our guys up front are playing well," Rick Enna said. "James Foster was great. Seth (Barrick) was dangerous. Our mids, Jonathan Bass and Luis Alvarado, I thought played great. Bass was creating problems all day long. Our back four with Matt DuBois and Thomas Reece coming out of the back were causing all kids of problems.
The Thunder won't have much time to reflect on the loss, as they'll take on O'Fallon Township at 6 tonight and DeSmet Jesuit at 3 p.m. Saturday in St. Louis, Mo.
"We're excited about the last few games. We've got a hugely difficult schedule to close out the season," Rick Enna said. "I just hope we stay healthy and I hope we keep our desire. We'll see if we'll be competitive come playoff time."
Originally published at: http://www.shawneedispatch.com/news/2017/oct/06/st-james-soccer-comes-short-shootout-against-bv-we/