Close losses masked improvement during soccer season at BLHS
The 4-11-2 record isn’t what Basehor-Linwood soccer coach Kevin Vincent or his players wanted entering the 2008 season.
The record is forgettable for a BLHS program accustomed to winning, and is just one year removed from being the Kaw Valley League champion.
However, with a closer look, there are signs of promise and evidence that the team was close to flipping this season and having a winning record.
The Bobcats’ record hinged on seven goals this season. They lost seven games by one goal. The losses came against top Kaw Valley League teams and area programs.
“We played well against some quality opponents,” Vincent said.
He also said the players exerted a lot of effort and played quality soccer in spite of not winning a lot of games.
“When you lose by one goal that amounts to one mistake, a pass or a mental breakdown,” Vincent said. “When you are in games as much as we were, you know that the players played well. It is never easy to lose, but we played well in the games. A lot of the games did not go the way we had hoped, but we stuck together well.”
Piper defeated Basehor-Linwood 1-0 in the second round of the Class 4-1A regional playoffs. The team also lost to St. James Academy by a single goal. St. James placed fourth at state this year.
Looking forward, the hypothesis for next season is simple — the Bobcats were underclassmen heavy this season, and next year the freshmen and sophomores who saw significant playing team in tight games should help them win more games.
“We will still have a lot of youth next year,” Vincent said. “This team had two juniors on the team and the rest of the returning players were freshmen and sophomores. Hopefully, this season will pay dividends next year (so) that these players have been in games that mattered.”
In looking forward, Symon Seaton, Basehor-Linwood’s second-leading scorer, will return for the Bobcats. They will look to replace leading scorer Tanner Bowers, an All-State selection by the Northeast Kansas Coaches Association.
He is one of seven seniors who are graduating along with Mitch Mallon, Josh Keopke, Nathan Smith, Justin Gripka, Jonas Box and Devin Ridder.
While those players concluded their careers this season, the Bobcats will return a solid nucleus of players next season.
Along with Seaton, Cory Stephens, Destry Bryan, Beau Himpel and goalie Ryan Lawless also return for the Bobcats. Vincent also said he expects the underclassmen to play on club soccer teams during the offseason.
“I think all of our returning players will play on club teams; no matter what subdivision they are in, it is good for them to play as much as they can,” Vincent said. “That is what it will take for us to build and go where we want to go.”
While the record might not be what Vincent wanted this season, there were some highlights for the Bobcats.
Late in the year, Basehor-Linwood played well, including in a senior-night win over Bonner Springs, one of the program’s chief rivals.
The team’s overtime win over Bonner Springs on senior night was a highlight for Vincent.
“It was the team’s first victory on a new field,” Vincent said. “It was nice to send the seniors off with a win. To beat Bonner Springs on the new field was big.”
This also was the first season for Basehor-Linwood soccer to have its own field, which was dedicated during the first home game of the season.
“It was nice to see all of those volunteers and school board members honored for all of their hard work,” he said.
Another highlight was the first home game of the year when the field was dedicated.