A mere 22 hours after a difficult home defeat against the best team in Kansas, the Leavenworth High girls' soccer team was at it again Friday night at Pioneer Stadium in a match up against a strong 5A team in the Topeka Trojans.
Showing grit and a desire to fight back following a big loss the night before, the Pioneers presented a strong front and illustrated more steps in their evolution despite a 9-1 loss to the Trojans.
"Topeka is the fastest team we will play all season, that was ridiculous," LVHS head coach Derek Wilson said. "If they (get better during the season) I have a hard time believing a lot of 5A teams will beat them."
The first four minutes of the match had plenty of action as Topeka (3-2) got on the board early on a direct kick following a questionable call directly in front of the LVHS goal. The ensuing kick flustered softly high and too high for sophomore Pioneer goal keeper Lizabeth LaDuron for quick 1-0 Topeka High lead.
Yet, the Pioneers stormed back down the field and forced a Trojans penalty in their own box.
Unfortunately, the Pioneer penalty kick was saved and Topeka held early.
"That would have been huge and put it at 1-1 and the momentum would have shifted back to us. You know, like I told her, keep her head up and not dwell on it, because you'll miss the next one."
There was no misinterpreting the Pioneers' intent to push forward and connect the dots between teammates, but Topeka's link-up play and ability to use its fleet of fast feet up front caused plenty of consternation of LVHS' defense.
Topeka would collect three more scores, but all of a relatively stellar quality as the Pioneers made the Trojans work for their 4-0 halftime lead.
Then came that 'Oh my,' start to the second half for the Pioneers.
They dominated the second half's first 10 minutes, keeping the ball on the Trojans' side of the field and finally getting on the board on a nectar thread through the middle by Alexis Roan that found the foot of fellow freshman Kaylee Shaw who blasted the shot into the back of the onion bag to make the LVHS deficit to 4-1.
"Absolutely that was (the team's best period of play this season) and I don't think Topeka knew what was going on right there," Wilson said. "We were working like crazy out there and Maggie Weber and Alexis Roan were tearing apart their left side. We got one in, I think we got too happy with ourselves and gave one back. That's been a problem from last year that has carried over to this year."
To their dismay, they surrendered momentum a minute later when Topeka countered with a quick strike to take some air out of the LVHS mojo.
"I would much rather see us bury the ball in the back of the net, run back and let's go," Wilson said. "Same time, they are high school kids and need to have fun. I'm not overlooking that, but at the same time I'd like more of a 'we expect that,' versus a 'holy cow' moment. This program hasn't had success in long time so when we get a goal or two there is that 'oh wow' facto and we need to get to the point where we expect to score."
An inability to channel aggression into calculation backfired on LVHS on a couple of Topeka tallies and some late lethargy also played a role.
"We played (with intent) for the most part, but when they would score we would start having more doubt," Leavenworth freshman Faith Knoedler said. "We just need to keep encouraging one another and help each other out. We have to remember what worked. We have a lot of newer players this year so we don't have that same bond other teams have after playing together for a while."