Bobcats enjoy roller coaster week
With a 2-1 victory over perennial power Mill Valley last Wednesday, Basehor-Linwood High School's soccer program was poised to become a Kaw Valley League contender last week.
Instead, the Bobcats fell just short, losing a 3-2 heartbreaker at Piper on Monday.
A victory against the Pirates, one of the top teams in the league, would have brought BLHS's record to 4-4, and from the opening kick, the Bobcats had the look of a winning team. Spurred on by coach Kevin Vincent's fiery pre-game speech, Basehor-Linwood had the Pirates on their heels and scrambling to keep up early on.
The Bobcats controlled play and held the ball in Piper's half of the field for nearly the entire first 15 minutes. Every time the Pirates tried to counterattack, their offense was halted by offsides calls. Piper was called offsides six times in the first 15 minutes and 16 times in the entire game.
Basehor-Linwood goalie Zach Lowe faced just five shots in the first half, but his leg got a good workout, as he took most of the free kicks after the offsides penalties. Ten minutes into the game Lowe blasted a kick that sailed over the Piper defense. Basehor-Linwood forward Austin Knipp ran onto it, flicked it over the keeper with his head, and then blasted it in for what appeared to be the game's first goal. But the referees ruled that Knipp had been offsides when the ball left Lowe's foot and disallowed the goal.
"The offsides call kind of killed us, but you can't dwell on that," Knipp said.
The Bobcats manufactured other good chances in the first half after the goal was wiped away, but couldn't quite cash in. Senior midfielder James Bishop fired a shot from 30 yards away that the Piper goalie tipped over the crossbar at the last second. Minutes later, Bishop fed a perfect cross to Knipp, whose shot glanced off the right post.
Despite out-shooting Piper 13 to 5, Basehor found itself down 1-0 at halftime.
Just before the half, Vincent called sophomore forward Stephen Millison over and urged him to crash the goal and look for easy scoring opportunities. The advice would turn the game in the Bobcats' favor in the second half. With the Pirates paying more attention to Knipp as the game went on, Millison found himself free in front of the net for a pair of huge goals.
"I told Millison to step up and he did, so I'm proud of him," Knipp said.
Millison's first goal came at the 59:00 mark, as fellow sophomore Ryan Sirridge beat two defenders in the left corner and fed him just feet from the goal. His second came in a scrum in front of the net after a corner kick from Bishop. The goal came in the 75th minute and quieted the Piper crowd as Basehor-Linwood took its first lead, 2-1.
"Just got in front of the goal and my teammates kicked it in to me," Millison said. "I had more intensity. I don't know why but I just felt that way in the second half."
But Piper showed its experience and determination, answering 30 seconds later. The small crowd roared as a textbook cross and tap-in from the Pirates tied the game again.
The lightening-quick turn of events had the Bobcats hanging their heads momentarily. But Vincent rallied his players and the Bobcats fought back so that it appeared overtime was inevitable. With 1:30 left, the Bobcats had one final defensive lapse and Piper made them pay. The Pirates worked the ball into the left corner and were able to cross it to an unmarked forward who tapped it in, sending Piper to a 3-2 victory and Basehor-Linwood to a 3-5 record.
Basehor-Linwood's next game is Monday at home against Bonner Springs.