Topeka Friday night was supposed be the night.
Two days after pressuring top-ranked Shawnee Mission East, Free State High's girls soccer team and its coach believed the Firebirds could beat Washburn Rural for their first win ever. Instead, the host Junior Blues scored a goal in each half to deny Free State, 2-0, on Friday night at McElroy Field.
"I thought tonight was the night for sure," Firebird senior goalie Marie Keplinger said. "I was expecting us to come out and play hard. We just weren't finishing when we need to."
Washburn Rural, now 6-2 after winning its fourth straight, outshot the Firebirds 17-5. Lindsey Motley scored in the 30th minute with a low shot inside the right goal post and Kristin Erickson scored in the 62nd minute to cap Rural's scoring. FSHS coach Phil Lee questioned Erickson's goal, wanting an offsides call.
Like his players, Lee exuded confidence heading into the Rural contest.
"I was very disappointed for them because they are trying so hard," said Lee, whose team dipped to 0-6-1. "I thought we felt pretty good coming in. The girls wanted to have a great performance and they came out to do that. Rural played a solid game and was very physical. I don't think we necessarily challenged the ball as well."
Sophomore midfielder Missy Garcia, who scored Free State's lone goal in the 3-1 loss to SM East, had two good looks at the goal after juking a couple of Rural defenders. She missed wide right early in the second half and missed wide left with five seconds remaining.
"We've been doing really well together, that built our confidence and we expected to do well tonight," Garcia said. "We did do well and I'm very proud of our team. I think my passes were off tonight and I need to work on it."
The Blues unleashed 10 shots on goal in the second half and Keplinger smothered several of them.
"We've got to keep after it," Keplinger said. "We can't let down. We've got to play every game like it's our last game of the season and leave it all on the field."
In the junior varsity contest, Free State lost, 3-0. The Firebirds' JV is now 1-1-3.
Next for Free State is Topeka West at 4:15 p.m. Monday at the Firebird field.
-- Steve Rottinghaus' phone message number is 832-7152. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org