Future bright for LHS soccer
After the final seconds ticked off the clock of the Lansing High boys' soccer team's season-ending 6-0 loss to Blue Valley West in the Class 5A regional finals last Thursday in Stilwell, the Lions made their way toward midfield where they huddled as a unit one final time.
The loss signified the end of the LHS careers for seniors Chris Nelson, Zach Burton, Ben Crary, Chris Hancock, Kyle Harriss, Joey Sebes and Ryan Shea.
"We appreciate the work that they did for us this season, and it's been great working with them," coach Randy Brown said. "Unfortunately, if you're a senior, then unless you win state your last game is a loss, so you'll always have a loss in the back of your mind. But I'm not going to take anything away from our guys. Nobody gave up. We kept our cool, and we feel pretty good about it."
The Lions (8-9) certainly fought. In fact, they dominated the first 20 minutes of the game before West snuck a goal past LHS starting goalkeeper Alex Burton. That's when the Jaguars' superior speed and skill proved to be too much.
"We played pretty good defense, but we just went up against the best and couldn't sustain what we had," Nelson said.
For the seniors it was a painful way to leave the field for the final time, tasting bitter defeat to arguably the best team in Class 5A. Meanwhile, Brown was left to contemplate how to replace such a talented class.
Burton and Nelson were the leaders of Lansing's defense, meaning there's some rebuilding work to do on a unit that allowed just 28 goals all year.
"It's a pretty big loss because we had some big boys on the defense," sophomore forward Andy Dick said. "Zach (Burton) was probably the head of the defense, controlling everybody in the back.
"Our defense will be a little bit weakened, but we'll work to rebuild that and train the new guys in the offseason."
Junior Theo Daniels and sophomore Josh Robinson saw significant starting time on defense, however, and both are expected to play a vital role in the refurbished defense.
Offensively, Brown said his squad should be in pretty good shape. Hancock will be tough to replace up top, but the top four scorers and 78 percent of the total offense will return.
Dick, a sophomore, led the Lions with 26 points on 11 goals and four assists. Junior Brad Mock had 10 goals and an assist. Junior Ty Thackston had eight goals and junior Mike Bayless added a team-high 11 assists.
"A lot of guys came in and played very well for us this year so we really appreciate that," Brown said. "It's a good thing to build on for next year."