Lansing falls in soccer quarters
The Lansing High boys soccer team had been down before in the Class 5A playoffs.
LHS trailed Bishop Miege before rallying to win the regional championship Thursday, so when the Lions trailed the Shawnee Heights T-Birds Tuesday by two goals midway through the first half, they didn't flinch.
Lansing answered with a goal by senior Brad Mock. But then the scoring went silent.
Shawnee Heights 2, Lansing 1.
"We came back like we normally do, but that second one was just a little harder to get than we thought it would be," said senior Ty Thackston, one of a number of frustrated Lansing forwards.
The loss ended the Lions' season in the state quarterfinals and closed a season where they reasserted themselves as one of the strongest soccer programs in northeast Kansas.
Tuesday's game was unusual for the Lions for a number of reasons. For one, they weren't very crisp with their passes. Second, they're not used to scoring just one goal. In fact, they scored two or more goals in all but three games this year. All three of those were losses.
The T-Birds (13-5-1) dominated the first 30 minutes of the game. They used their speed to stretch the Lions' midfield and defense to create scoring opportunities. Junior forward Brandon Jackson put a shot in the back of the net in the fourth minute, but a teammate was offsides so the goal didn't count.
It didn't matter. Heights soon capitalized on Lansing's defense for two goals during a seven-minute span to take a 2-0 lead. The first goal came when sophomore midfielder Bryan Prentice scored on a breakaway from 12 yards out. The second came in the 26th minute on junior Josh Hardy's strike to the far post from 10 yards out.
Heights coach Michael Balint said he knew his squad's lead wasn't safe.
"They just came back from playing Miege a goal down and had seen that before," Balint said. "They're a good soccer team. They're not 16-2 or 16-3 for nothing."
Much like it did during its 3-1 victory against Bishop Miege on Thursday, Lansing responded to the adversity. Senior Ty Thackston slipped a pass to senior Brad Mock for a breakaway down the right side. Mock fired a shot to the upper left-hand corner of the net to pull LHS within 2-1 in the 35th minute.
The Lions (16-3) nearly tied the match on two occasions in the final six minutes of the half. Senior Mike Bayless hit the left post and junior Nate Markovetz drilled the crossbar from 35 yards out on a free kick.
"At that point we said 'It's all ours,'" senior midfielder Gabe Garza said. "We just kept pressuring it, pushing it and tried to get motivated more and more."
As the Lions pushed, the T-Birds pushed back harder. They dropped back to four defenders and didn't allow the Lions to get any clean looks at the goal.
"Their defense was one of the best that we've played all year," Thackston said.
The Lions grew frustrated as the minutes ticked down in the second half, and they struggled to maintain possession of the ball. Ultimately, the T-Birds hung on and earned their second straight trip to the state semifinals.
"We knew Shawnee Heights was going to be a good team," LHS coach Randy Brown said. "They are a good team. They've got some quick players up front. They got a couple of quick strikes in, and I thought we did well to answer. But after that, we needed to put some balls into the back of the net and we were unable to do that. That was the key to the game."
Lansing will lose 11 seniors from this year's team. In addition to Mock, Thackston and Garza, seniors Mike Bayless, Nolan Bohannon, Alex Brettmann, Theo Daniels, Bobby Hamilton, Shawn Jung, Steve Parker and Brandon Rimmey all played their last game for LHS.
Thackston said that although he was disappointed that the Lions lost, he was proud of all that they accomplished this year.
"It's been great," Thackston said of the season. "We beat what we did last year. We ended the season with 94 goals. There's only two teams that have beaten us. And then to be regional and league champions : the only (other) thing you can ask for is to win state."