Blue Valley Southwest got its second chance and didn’t waste it in a 1-0 win over Bishop Carroll to claim the boys soccer 5A state championship Saturday.
A year ago, the Timberwolves reached the final but lost by two goals. They not only returned to the state title game, they finished the job, this time as the undefeated state champions.
“We knew the feeling of what it was last year – that disappointment,” senior Ethan Diedel said. “We were doing this not only for us but for the guys last year too. Our group has started something and hopefully we can keep this dynasty going.”
Junior Aidan Bates came up with the game-winning goal on a ball that bounced around the box. Sophomore Maclain Petri settled the ball enough in front of the net off a throw-in to bounce back to Bates, who circled to the center of the box and beat the keeper to his left.
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“Whoever made the most mistakes today was going to be the loser, and that was the one mistake we made,” Carroll coach Mike Skaggs said. “Both teams played great. These were the best two teams in the state in the finals, and that’s kind of what you want.”
The goal came with 29 minutes left in the game and was enough to decide it after a strong defensive effort from Blue Valley Southwest limited Carroll (18-2-1) to only a few scoring opportunities in the second half.
“What I was most impressed about this weekend was our defense and our organization back there,” Blue Valley Southwest coach Jason Pendleton said. “We didn’t give up very many dangerous opportunities to the other team. After watching Carroll a little bit last night I was a little nervous, to be honest with you, but I felt like as the game evolved we were controlling the tempo.”
Carroll knocked off St. Thomas Aquinas in overtime on Friday night in the state semifinals, bringing them a game closer to the state championship than the program had ever been. The Eagles had reached the state semifinals three times but had never advanced to the championship game.
“There’s only one more spot we haven’t tried,” Skaggs said. “It’s our fourth trip to the final four in the last five years so we’ve definitely got this program going in the right direction.”
With little doubt as to Blue Valley Southwest’s status as the top 5A team in Kansas, the only question that remains is the boys high school soccer national rankings put out by USA Today. The poll had the Timberwolves (20-0-1) at No. 1 among teams in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Montana and the Dakotas. The most recent national poll put them at No. 3 behind only St. Benedict’s Prep out of New Jersey and Whitefish Bay in Wisconsin.
Pendleton said he refused to talk about the national rankings with his team during the season. He finally mentioned it in the postgame celebration.
“There’s no way to prove it, but if somebody wants to fund a game with whoever they think is No.1 we’ll be happy to show up and see how the game goes,” he said.
Kapaun Mount Carmel (16-4-1) claimed third place with a 2-0 win over Aquinas (13-6-2).