Jaguars too much for LHS soccer
Stilwell Lansing High's soccer team entered its regional championship contest with Blue Valley West riding high on confidence after whipping Washington on Tuesday.
The Lions (8-9) were brought back down to earth in decisive fashion Thursday evening by the top-ranked team in Class 5A, however, as West (13-5) stormed to a 6-0 victory at Western Front Stadium.
"We knew they were a good team," LHS coach Randy Brown said. "I think we played them pretty tough in the first half, but we gave up a couple easy goals, which is shame on us.
"We've gotta answer, and we weren't able to put anything in the back of the net."
Despite the Jaguars' glitzy record and well-deserved hype coming in, Lansing was the more aggressive team during the first 20 minutes.
The Lions controlled the flow of the game and limited West's high-powered offense to seven shots during that span only two of them on-goal. One of those shots squeaked past when, in the 15th minute, Matt Besler slipped a pass through two defenders and found Nate Danner crashing the back side for the finish.
Still, the early strike didn't faze the Lions. They continued to play aggressive, intelligent soccer and had the ball on West's half of the field much of the time.
"We were doing what we needed to do," Brown said. "They put one in and that still wasn't a problem."
"All of a sudden that second one went in and the tide started changing. It's just unfortunate, but that's part of the psyche of the game. Then you start rushing, you start doing things a little bit harder than you probably need to, and then all of a sudden the next two goals were easy goals."
Trouble arose 11 minutes before halftime. John Legler scored off a feed from Besler. Legler added another goal 57 seconds later. Then Besler scored five minutes before halftime. Suddenly, in a six-minute span a one-goal deficit turned into a 4-0 crater.
"We played pretty good defense, but we just went up against the best and couldn't sustain what we had," senior defender Chris Nelson said.
Lansing faced an insurmountable lead at halftime but never showed sign of giving up. The Lions turned up the pressure and mounted numerous runs toward the West goal. The Jaguars were too fast and too skilled, though, and kept the Lions from firing many shots
"They had amazing team speed and ball control: just great passing," Nelson said. "They've probably played together since they were young, and we were thrown together just in high school. It's tough, but we played hard and have no regrets."
West outshot the Lions 28-8 for the game and kept LHS star forward Andy Dick in check most of the game as he fired just two shots.
West advances to take on a yet-to-be-determined opponent in the state quarterfinals, Lansing's season is over.
The loss marked the end of the careers of LHS seniors Nelson, Ben Crary, Chris Hancock, Joey Sebes, Ryan Shea, Zach Burton and Kyle Harris.