Basehor-Linwod soccer players worked together last summer
Players gathered each day to get ready for season
Members of the Basehor-Linwood boys' soccer team turned their summer vacations into a 3-month quest to improve upon last season's state quarterfinals finish.
Nearly every day the team met to run, lift, kick the ball around, or participate in soccer camps. Now, with the season starting, it's time for that work to pay off.
"You can't ask for leadership like that," coach Kevin Vincent said. "We have some guys that have tasted success and want to take it to the next level. They know it will take hard work and they are installing that in the younger players. If they can come in a step ahead of everyone else, we can elevate it from there."
Basehor-Linwood began its journey with a 3-0 victory in the season opener against DeSoto last Friday, a team they beat in the regional championship last year.
"It was a huge win for us to open the season," Vincent said. "We are ready to build on that and keep the excitement and momentum going in our direction."
Basehor-Linwood finished 13-5-1 last year and Vincent's only goal is for the team to improve.
"We want to improve upon the previous year," Vincent said. "Our goal this year is to improve. With the talent we have, the sky is the limit. We let a few games get away that we shouldn't have last year. We are a different team and we want to get better."
The team is in accord. Earlier this summer, Matt Murrell made a previously unthinkable proclamation.
"I think we can win state," Matt Murrell said. "I really do. We've stepped it up a lot."
Vincent likes the confidence but prefers to let the results speak for themselves.
"I have all the confidence in the players that they can get wherever they want to go," Vincent said. "But I am more of a show-it-instead-of-talk-about-it kind of coach. I have no doubt we can have great success, though. But we need to put the work in."
Vincent said he could see the team had put the work in over the summer when they reported for camp.
"Conditioning-wise, they were far superior to what I have seen before," Vincent said. "There has been a progression everywhere. They were able to anticipate each others move, and I could tell they had played together."
Still, the team will have to replace the production of the first 100-goal scorer in Kansas prep soccer history.
"I don't think you can ever replace 35 goals and a player of Austin Knipp's caliber," Vincent said. "I think as a team everyone will step up. I think we will be a very balanced team instead of relying on one guy to score."
Vincent expects other players to step up in his absence.
"Stephen Millison has had a great career," Vincent said. "He has been in Austin Knipp's shadow the last few years. I expect him to break out this year."
The senior group of Sam Seamann, Matt Murrell, Kyle Allen, Alex Ziegler, Ryan Sirridge, Ian White, Millison and Mitchell Kincaid will lead the team. The seniors spurred the long summer workouts and have been most vocal about the team's newfound stake as a premier soccer program.
"This group, ever since they were freshmen, has gotten better and better," Vincent said. "I just can't say enough about the group as a whole. They are leaving their legacy on the program."
That legacy will take shape over the next three months. It is only a matter of time before the city finds out if the team can make good on Murrell's guarantee of a spot at the state tournament.
"It's going to be an exciting season," Vincent promised. "We will have some high-powered, high-scoring games. It's going to be a lot of fun."