The class of Kansas
Hauver, Manago, Nietzke land on All-State first team
Only two teams in Kansas Class 5-1A landed more players on the All-State girls soccer first team than Lansing High this year.
Those teams - state champion St. Thomas Aquinas and third-place finisher Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel - had five and four players, respectively, on the state's top team.
Lansing, which posted a 14-4 record, won Kaw Valley League and regional championships and advanced to the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history, landed three players on the first team.
Senior forward Bianca Manago was named to the first team for the third year in a row after being a second-team selection as a freshman. Nietzke was a first-team selection for the second straight year, and Hauver made the first team this season after being a second-team choice as a junior.
"On All-State, a significant piece of the selection process is the season we played, and another significant piece is how they've played over the years," LHS coach Rob Elkins said. "Bianca and Abby and Katie were carrying in a pretty good track record of consistency to be able to perform at a really high level."
A consistent offensive threat throughout her career, Manago compiled one of the best statistical seasons in program history this year when she scored 17 goals and dished out 11 assists.
"Bianca was dominating the stats," Elkins said. "She was up there with the schools like Aquinas, Seaman and Topeka West."
Manago ends her career as the leading scorer in school history with 48 goals and 40 assists. A National Soccer Coaches Association of America and adidas Girls High School Scholar All-American, she will attend Texas A&M University in the fall on an academic scholarship and try out for the Aggies' soccer team. A&M is the defending Big 12 Conference champion.
Nietzke's second appearance on the first team was no surprise to Elkins. After all, she posted a career-best 11 shutouts - up from seven last year - and saved 92 percent of the shots against her prior to the quarterfinal loss to Aquinas.
"Katie has been helped by having a good defense helping her out, but it's also been her performance in the big-money games," Elkins said. "She played very well against some very good teams. And you can't just make it on shutouts alone. You need to be able to show a percentage of saves against shutouts. She has to have some shots taken on her to get those statistics."
Nietzke said practice sessions with former LHS goalkeeper Nicole Parent and Lansing boys goalkeeper Alex Burton helped her immensely. She also is the first to admit she had a stellar defense helping her out this season.
Few players offered Nietzke more on-field assistance than Hauver. She scored two goals and had two assists this season, but it was her ability to run down opposing forwards and her willingness to sacrifice her body to thwart attacks that made her so valuable.
"She's like my right-hand man; she's always there," Nietzke said of Hauver. "Whenever I come out (to challenge a shot) I know she's got my back. I mean, how many goals has she saved behind me? She's going to be missed a lot next year. She's always in the right spot : every single time, I know I can always count on her to be there."
Elkins said Hauver earned a reputation among coaches that spoke for itself.
"When you play with someone as dynamic as Abby Hauver in the back, she can't help but be noticed by other coaches," Elkins said. "I don't even have to talk about her (at coaches' meetings). I can just put her name on the ballot, and coaches will know who she is and what she did against their team. It's amazing how many comments I got from other coaches about how great Abby Hauver was."
A co-salutatorian for the 2007 senior class, Hauver will take her academic and soccer skills to William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., in the fall.