Soccer season shattered nearly all BLHS records
It's pretty easy to call this season the best ever for Basehor-Linwood High School soccer, which started in 2000. Indeed, after looking at the numbers, it would be hard to call it anything else.
The Bobcats set a new school record for wins with 13, nearly doubling the previous record of seven. They earned home field advantage in the playoffs for the first time, got their first playoff win (6-0 against Eudora) and their first regional championship win (4-2 against De Soto). They also shattered the school record for goal differential, outscoring opponents 79-36.
Those were just the team milestones, almost every player also reached individual milestones. Austin Knipp topped that list, of course, by breaking the Kansas record for career goals. He now owns arguably the most prestigious individual record in Kansas high school soccer and, even if someone were to break that record, he will still have the honor of being the first Kansas player to reach the 100-goal milestone.
Knipp also shattered his own school record for goals in a season (24), by notching a previously-unfathomable 35 this year. That mark led all players in the Kansas City metro area (his nearest competitor had 32), and is likely to stand for a long time at BLHS.
Knipp's season tended to overshadow his teammates' individual accomplishments, but they had plenty. Junior forward Stephen Millison set a new career high with 15 goals this season. That put him at 28 for his career, which would have easily given him the school record if not for Knipp (before Knipp arrived the school's career goals record was 14).
Sophomore midfielder Justin Gripka never quite got a goal this year, narrowly missing several times. But he did set a new school record for assists, with 16. Meanwhile a number of Bobcats got their first career goals this year and the team set a new school record with 13 different players scoring at least one goal. The team's list of accomplishments just goes on and on.
"My first thought was that at the beginning of the season I really didn't expect some of this," BLHS coach Kevin Vincent said of tallying up this season's stats. "It was definitely a season that Basehor-Linwood soccer really kind of set the bar and started to become a soccer program instead of just a team."
Of course, even a 13-5-1 season isn't all rosy and the Bobcats had their down moments.
A two goal lead slipped away in the final 15 minutes against Mill Valley on Sept. 20 and turned into a 3-2 loss. The Jaguars went on to take third place in the class 5A state tournament, so that certainly would have been a signature win for the program had the Bobcats held on.
The 7-2 loss to Bonner Springs on senior night was disappointing and baffling, the only game in which the team really didn't show up. The 3-1 season ending loss to Maranatha in the state quarterfinals was also a tough one, because the Bobcats probably didn't play their best and they had gotten so close to making the trip to Bethel College for the season's final two games.
Still, the good moments far outweighed the bad this season. Until the loss to Maranatha the Bobcats had won every game they played against class 1A-4A opponents. They had a signature win at De Soto (5-0 on opening night) and a spirited comeback to beat Lansing, a good 5A team, 3-2.
For two weeks at the end of the season the Bobcats made a playoff run that really put soccer on the map throughout the community of Basehor.
Hundreds of fans packed the bleachers for the three home playoff games, and few of them will forget the explosive second half against Eudora, the emotional comeback against De Soto, or the electricity in the stands when Knipp scored his 100th goal less than a minute into the Maranatha game.
No doubt about it, this year was special; and it will go down as a watershed season for Basehor-Linwood soccer.