This past week the boys’ varsity soccer team defeated Blue Valley West and Olathe West, advancing them to the State quarterfinal game tonight against Shawnee Mission West.
East played their first playoff game against defending state champion Blue Valley West on Oct. 23. The Lancers won 1-0 with a goal from senior Conor O’Toole late in the second half. Co-captain senior Zach Bass believes the win was a result of strong teamwork from East.
“Everyone really worked their hardest, even the subs coming off the bench, when they got in the game they were working for the team and giving all they had,” Bass said. “So it was definitely a teamwork win.”
The East win on Tuesday night advanced them to the second playoff game Thursday night against Olathe West. The Lancers won 2-0 after 80 minutes of possession-heavy play by both teams.
The first goal of the game came after senior Cooper Holmes received a switch ball, carried it into the 18 yard box and finished a low grounded shot to give East a 1-0 lead. The score remained the same until senior Carson Jones tapped in a ball that slipped through the West goalkeeper’s hands with less than 10 minutes left in the game to give East a cushion lead of 2-0.
“Carson Jones scored his first goal of the season so the whole team was super excited,” head coach Jamie Kelly said. “A score in that moment felt like it sealed the victory for us.”
Kelly believes the team’s experience playing in playoff games before attributed to win.
“We have 15 seniors and even some underclassmen that were on the team last year that went to playoffs, so we had that playoff-experience going into it,” Kelly said. “So there weren’t really a lot of nerves, it was more of just making sure that they were focused, doing their job and trusting their teammates and coaches.”
Coming off of a four-game tie streak, the two playoff wins this past week were a fresh change for the East team.
“It’s definitely shown us that in a do-or-die situation we’re ready to go,” said Bass. “It’s showing that once we’re in a situation [like playoffs] when we know we have to win, we win.”
The Lancer’s victory on Thursday night secured them a State Quarterfinal game tonight against Shawnee Mission West and also the Regional 6A Championship title. East expects to play a very athletic, fit West team with a strong line of forwards, forcing them to play strong defense and shut down West’s forwards.
According to Bass, the team is very motivated to win tonight’s game and hopes to make it to the State finals.
“We just want to be known as the best team that has played at State, because in all of Kelly’s years [when he has gone to] State there’s never been a state champion from an East team,” Bass said. “So if we win three more games then we will be the best team to ever be at East, and obviously that’s where our goals are set at. However if the season ends [without going to State], we all know that it was a success just making it this far and having a good time playing as a team.”