Regional soccer kicked off Monday with various teams in action in the state including the Leavenworth Pioneers and Lansing Lions.
No. 11 Leavenworth traveled to the Shawnee Mission Soccer Complex to face No. 6 Shawnee Mission South in 6A regional action.
Head coach Greg Ruff said it was a coin flip that determined the opponent Leavenworth faced. Leavenworth and Shawnee Mission West both went 9-7. Shawnee Mission West got the No. 10 seed and the Pioneers were the No. 11 seed. Instead of facing 12-4 Shawnee Mission South, the Pioneers could have played No. 7 Harmon (11-4-1). Ruff said the other draw was more favorable but the team arrived at the Shawnee Mission Soccer Complex and the coach said the team gave everything they had despite falling 4-0.
“I could not be more proud of this group for the effort they displayed,” Ruff said. “Our senior class (Maddie Stoffle, Alexis Cole, Maja Lager and Sydney Howell) all showed up to play. But it was not meant to be. It was a difference of three and that did it for us. I told the girls they had to play 80 minutes, not 79:59, and we played 77 minutes which was the difference in the match.”
Ruff said the team played the Raiders evenly until the final minute of the first half. A Pioneers’ defender was called for a penalty in the box. SMS stepped up and scored on a penalty kick to lead 1-0. Ruff said the team then had an intensity issue and a defensive mishap two minutes into the second half led to a second goal by Shawnee Mission South.
“The girls regrouped,” Ruff said. “(They) were positive and got it together. At the 23rd minute, SMS was able to get the third goal on us, which ultimately sealed the win for them.”
Ruff said he then started to put in some of the younger players to get them experience on varsity. He said he felt like the younger players did well only allowing one goal with 10 minutes left and the Raiders would take the win 4-0.
The loss ends the Pioneers’ first season under Ruff. Leavenworth finishes the year 9-8 with a 7-3 United Kansas Conference record. Ruff said he was still proud of the girls’ effort Monday and he thinks the team made a statement this year.
“I was proud of all our girls (for) their effort and intensity for most of the game,” Ruff said. “And I think we made a statement to everyone. The program is on the rise and we will be back next year. Losing these four seniors is going to be tough, especially Alexis Cole and her scoring, someone will have to step up and fill those shoes. But Hannah Hawley had an outstanding game as our future in keeper with 14 saves on the night. I thought our freshmen crew of Brooke Collins and Mia Kensinger stepped up huge for their teammates being thrown into the starting roles of center backs on defense against one of the best strikers in 6A. They played like seniors and have a bright future. Maybe next year we win a favorable toss and get our first regional win ever.”
The Lansing Lions hosted Washington on Monday for the play-in game for their regional bracket.
The No. 16 Lions rolled past No. 17 Washington 10-0. Lansing picked up their second win of the season in the win.
The team continued play Tuesday when they traveled to No. 1 De Soto (14-1-1). The Wildcats defeated Lansing 10-0 and 11-1 earlier in the season in UKC play.