It was a wet and dreary day for the Raiders’ 3-1 Regional loss to Tonganoxie, but the 2013 season wasn’t that way.
The Raiders ended with a 10-6-1 record and a hard fought Regional game.
“This has been one of the most memorable years,” head coach Frank Mazeitis said. “I have a lot of memories in 27 years of high school coaching, and this is going to go down as one of the most memorable.”
Injuries late in the season led to more freshman and sophomores playing for the Raiders.
Mazeitis said many times this season how proud he was of the younger players coming in and continue to keep them in games.
Freshman Ben Lee made several plays to keep Tonganoxie from getting more shots off.
“Ben has just an outstanding attitude for a freshman,” Mazeitis said. “You can’t coach that.”
Sophomore Mark Hernandez scored the lone goal within the first10 minutes of the second half to tie it at one apiece after senior Jaxon Qualley kicked the ball from midfield right in front of a running Hernandez.
Qualley made physical defensive plays throughout the game, too.
“They won’t die,” Mazeitis said. “Jaxon has an attitude about not scoring on him.”
Tonganoxie put on the pressure throughout the game and put through a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes of the game.
“I still say we have probably the best defense in the area,” Mazeitis said.
Phillip Hernandez made several leaping and diving saves to keep the Raiders in the game.
It was 1-0 Tonganoxie at the half and 1-1 for most of the second half.
“The first half of the first half we couldn’t get out of our half of the field, but we straightened out and we started moving the ball,” Mazeitis said.
The Raiders had a number of chances for goals in the second half, but they were either off target or the Tonganoxie defense would have good position to stop the runs.
Hernandez made a run close to the goal when the Raiders were down 2-1, but his contested shot went just wide of the goal.
With so many young players getting playing time this season, Mazeitis is excited for next year’s squad.
“We have an excellent group coming back,” he said. “Excellent group coming back.”