It was a step in the right direction, according to Leavenworth head soccer coach Brenden Olesen, in describing the record-breaking season for the Pioneers.
The Pioneers ended their season in the regional championship against Olathe East on Oct. 25 to finish with an 11-5-1 year, the most wins in program history.
Olesen said the positive changes in the culture for the program and school will be what he will remember most.
The Pioneers began the year 4-0, outscoring opponents 20-1. Three of the four regular season losses came in overtime and all four losses were only by a goal each. The regular season ended with a 10-4-1 record, which was a new program best for the regular season. The team outscored opponents 50-18, both new school records for points scored and points allowed.
Colby Loghry scored 14 goals on the year and Philippe Fall had eight assists, both setting school records. Nick Hawley was the top defender and Dylan Shaw was the top goalkeeper with 1.11 goals against per game and averaged eight saves a game. The goals scored, assists and goals allowed averages were new school records.
During all of this, Leavenworth jumped up to 6A in all sports but football. Olesen said the change to 6A made the speed of play increase.
“Speed of play was perhaps the biggest change and challenge for us,” Olesen said. “In 6A, everything happens quicker on the field and mistakes are magnified.”
With the team being in 6A, they wrapped up the No. 5 seed in the Northeast bracket.
The faced Wyandotte at home for the first round of the playoffs. The Pioneers won 5-1. Olesen said it was the team’s best win.
“Our regional win over Wyandotte was the best match for a few reasons,” Olesen said. “It was our best performance defensively, we capitalized on the majority of our chances and it was the game that I think opened everyone’s eyes to how good we really are here at Leavenworth.”
The eye-opener set the Pioneers up for the regional championship against the Olathe East Hawks. Olathe East would win 4-0 to end the season for the Pioneers.
The team also recorded conference accolades. Andrew West was co-player of the year. Nick Hawley, Nathan Moore and West were all first-team picks, which broke the previous high of one first-team recipient. Loghry, Bernardo Santana and Cody Sanders were on the second team, which surpassed the previous best of two all-conference members on the second team. Tanner Britton, Brett Chapman, Shaw and Fall were all honorable mentions.
The player that Olesen said improved the most was Braedon Fox.
“This entire season (Fox) battled through a knee injury and still grew so much from last year,” Olesen said. “Last year he struggled to gain confidence on the field and get quality minutes and this year he was a game-changing starter.”
With the seniors leaving the program, Olesen said they are leaving behind a program with a vision of what hard work can bring to a team. He said it will be tough to lose them, but they set the expectations high for the program.
Olesen said he hopes to continue right where the team left off in 2018.
“Next season we hope to continue where we are leaving off,” Olesen said. “We have over half the starters returning and we will rebuild the positions we are losing with players that will set us up to compete for a conference championship next season.”