Lansing, Leavenworth kick off soccer season with intense rivalry matchup
Physicality was a major theme of Lansing and Leavenworth's boy's soccer opener as the crosstown rivals gathered at Leavenworth High School Tuesday for the latest edition of the Battle of Eisenhower.
The Lions and Pioneers both came out trying to set the tone for the match with plenty of physical moments that could have boiled over, but solid officiating prevented anything from becoming too serious. Lansing came away with a 2-1 win after trailing at halftime but both team's coaches said an intense atmosphere like this is the perfect way to kick off a season.
"It was nice actually getting to have some fans in the stands again for both teams," Leavenworth head coach Brenden Olesen said. "Cheerleaders were excited, players were excited, parents were excited and the referees did a great job. You know you can't ask for much more when you're trying to develop your program and grow it for both us and Lansing."
Lansing head coach Parker Ast said the Lions were somewhat flustered with the intensity of the game initially but they settled down after the first half.
"The rivalry here between us and Leavenworth is just incredible," Ast said. "This game brings a lot more pressure and as you can tell in that first half it really affected us."
The Pioneers jumped ahead early in the match with a goal from Antonio Hackett on Lions goalkeeper Zach Anderson and carried a 1-0 lead into halftime. The Lions put the pressure on as halftime loomed and couldn't get on the board so Ast sent his team a strong message for the final 40 minutes of play.
"The one thing I really needed to address with the boys was the effort going into that second half," Ast said. "I didn't feel that we were putting the full effort towards that ball to win that, and when we do you can see how successful we can be."
He was right and the Lions burst out of the gate in the second half with a goal from Bachtel two minutes in to even things up. Less than 15 minutes later, a defensive miscue led to a Lansing penalty kick, which Bachtel put past Pioneer goalkeeper Peyton White.
"Going forward we need to do a better job with our first touch," Olesen said, "and turning a lot of times just taking some blind turns, taking some big touches and just giving the possession right back to the other team."
The Pioneers had plenty of chances to even things up down the stretch with Hackett getting some more chances on the attack but were unable to hit their target.
The one-goal defeat is something the Pioneers have seen a lot of in the last couple of years but Olesen said they just need to score more.
"I know we lost by one here but we had five balls go off the woodwork," Olesen said. "When you hit in the post five times, I mean, this game could have gone drastically the other way. Lansing definitely had some chances too but for the most part, yeah I just feel like we threw a lot of things at the wall and we just got to score more now."
While Lansing came out on top, Ast said there is still a lot he wants to see from his team as the season progresses including more effort on the practice field.
"I think our attack started to develop a lot better towards the end of the game," he said, "and then really just getting that effort out in practice will help us expose it more during the game setting."
Olesen said the Pioneers are still hoping to get some athletes back due to injury and other off-the-field issues including defender Corbin Hayes.
Both teams have a full schedule this season but they're surely looking forward to their next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 30 at Lansing.