SM East’s soccer team started Tuesday’s state quarter finals game against Olathe East looking like they were set to muscle their way into the state bracket by knocking off the team that had barely beaten them just two weeks ago.
But the top-rated Hawks’ offense took advantage of the blustery conditions at Olathe’s College Boulevard Activity Center, capitalizing on a ball that SM East’s defense misjudged on account of the wind to score the winning goal midway through the second half.
The Lancers struck first on the night, with sophomore Max Maday floating a perfect pass into the box for senior Luke Ehly to punch in with a header to put the Lancers up 1-0.
“I was hoping we could weather the storm, because I knew they would come right back at us,” said coach Jamie Kelly.
Unfortunately, Kelly’s prediction proved accurate, as the Lancers’ defense let Olathe East get a good look at the goal on a breakaway to quickly tie the game before the first half came to a close.
The Lancers and the Hawks took turns putting pressure on the opposing defense in the opening minutes of the second half, but 13 minutes in Olathe East’s Logan Steen found a clean shot on goal after the wind held up the ball as it floated toward him a few yards from the net.
“I think the wind caught the ball a little bit,” Kelly said. “I think it caught [our defender] off his line.”
The Lancers didn’t find many clean looks on the goal in the final minutes, and Olathe East held on the for the win, bringing SM East’s season to a close. Still, making it to the quarter finals is a notable accomplishment. During Kelly’s tenure, only five Lancer squads have advanced to the quarter finals or beyond.
The loss marks the last game in an SM East kit for 14 seniors. But, Kelly says, he feels bullish about the squad’s makeup heading into next year.
“We’ll have a good amount of guys returning to our starting lineup, which is good,” he said. “And JV was rock solid this year, so I’ve got some guys that I think will step up. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do next year as a team.”