BLHS spirit boosts hopes/Player profile on Riley Sueser
It has been a process for building the Basehor-Linwood High School girls’ soccer team.
The team slowly rose from the early days of Erik Jones’ tenure a few years back to become a consistently competitive team in the Kaw Valley League with back-to-back records hovering around .500, which was quite an improvement.
Jones has now moved on and BLHS alum and former coach Austin Knipp has taken over the girls’ program. After battling through adversity all of last spring, they are looking forward to smoother sailing this time around.
“We are going to have a new season, a team and a new us, definitely,” senior goaltender Riley Seuser said. “I am really excited to have Knipp and his younger experience. I can see some from benefits from a younger coach and I can’t wait for the new season.
“We definitely have progressed the last five years. Jones brought in a lot of guidance and a lot of higher standards we went up to. I think being compared to the boys (Class 4A-I runners-up in 2016), it really influenced us I think.”
Knipp, like Jones, will coach both the boys’ and girls’ teams at Basehor-Linwood.
The title run by the BLHS boys last fall was both blessing and a bit of a curse for the Bobcat girls.
“With the boys and how good they did, it definitely put a lot of pressure on us,” junior Sofie Otting said. “Jones would bring it up at practice a lot and he would say things that made us want to try to be as good as the boys were. It was inspiring for us to see them make it to the championship. It was inspiring, but it also put pressure on us.
“The senior girls last year saw the senior boys and what they did and wanted to go farther. From being in the weight room, we started lifting and that made us stronger and faster.”
Their hopes and dreams were dashed a bit with the sudden injuries to bookend the season, but the Bobcats continued to grind.
It was also about in-game dealings working better.
“At halftime we would sit there and Jones would let us speak and we’d talk about let’s work on this and give suggestions,” Kendrick said. “The aggressiveness and competitiveness each girl had in each other and in yourself alone, we just all came together instead of giving up and kept pushing to the end.”
The grit, determination and toughness of the Bobcat team shone brightly in 2016 as the team had high hopes entering the season and then saw midfielder Carly Gore go down with injury during the basketball campaign to be lost all spring.
Then as the team pushed forward with many positive results, they lost uber-scorer Berkley Sharp late in the year and her 20-plus goals, as the Bobcats were forced into a bit of a struggle down the stretch.
Yet, they battled in a number of games and put themselves in a position to win most games despite having lost their two most formidable threats.
“If we lose players, we should all keep working together and if you lose a teammate we can keep pushing forward as a team,” junior Gracie Kendrick said. “Someone has to step up and be there to help us keep winning and working together.”
“We actually did a forum and we were in a classroom and wrote down our feelings and opinions about our team, our season and how it was going,” Seuser said. “We started losing once we started losing players. We all talked about it and that really bumped up our confidence because we got our feelings and opinions out. All that negativity came out and it helped us, especially since girls can have a little more attitude. That was our setting to keep things better and that’s why we didn’t fold.”
This year, Knipp has pushed the throttle in hopes of making these current Bobcats take the next step.
“Knipp is definitely expecting a lot of us,” Otting said. “We are learning a whole new way of teaching, which is fun. Having a girl JV coach is going to give us someone we can relate to better – we’ve never had a young girl before who we can relate to. It is definitely helping the JV team.”
Player Profile: Riley Seuser - Her goal is to score
Basehor-Linwood senior Riley Seuser has been the goaltender for the girls’ soccer team at Basehor-Linwood more out of necessity rather than the young lady’s love of playing the position.
She has done so for two years and may have to play between the sticks one more time as the Bobcats appear to need her talents there the most.
It has helped that Seuser has had some big-time back line help over the years, including the recently graduated Marina Pebley and others that have come and gone.
So change is expected on the defensive side of the field.
“We have been making more adjustments and our back line will have more difficulties than last year,” Seuser said. “I am a little nervous to see how it turns out, but in the long run I think (coach Austin) Knipp will have us play (well).”
Goaltenders are notorious for yelling at their own defenders when an opponent gets too easy of a shot on the goal and Seuser admits she fits that mold.
“I get kind of anxious and I do yell a lot at them, but I do have a different perspective of the field and I have the whole vision,” Seuser said. “I do yell and do direct people. We do have some newcomers and freshmen and people with new skills that aren’t used to varsity level of play. I am just kind of there for everybody and I’m like their shadow. I just do my own thing and try to be as confident as possible.
“I am so proud of where we came from and try to make us better than we used to be. I get so anxious, because I am really competitive.”
She is competitive enough to play goalie even when she doesn’t necessarily want to.
“I really didn’t want to play goalie,” Seuser admitted. “I played premier (in Kansas City) and I played goalie then. I didn’t play soccer in middle school and came back out my freshman year and I actually played rightside defender and then I tore my hip and Jones said he needed me and he needed me to play goalie.
“I can punt it pretty far and I can goal kick pretty far. My goal is to score for our high school or play forward or something like that. Goal is safe for me (due to injury) and for the coaches too. It is exciting when you make a save and the stands are cheering for you and your teammates are appreciative of you. But if a goal goes in, then I take the blame and (people) get all mad. It’s about 50-50 for me.”
She gets away from the grind of goaltender by finding some quality personal time.
“I like to lay around and relax and go out and do things,” Seuser said. “I am really addicted to my dog. We go out and take rides – she’s a teacup yorkie – and we go on late-night drives or we’ll come up to the field and go run around or play soccer.”