As the lone team with a losing record in the Class 6A state soccer quarterfinals, Lawrence High is a longshot to advance.
And that's the way first-year LHS coach Keith Nelson likes it.
"We've had great success this year and I think they're very relaxed because they know they're the underdogs and not expected to win," Nelson said.
The Lions (6-12) will meet Blue Valley North (15-2) at 6 tonight at Blue Valley District Complex at Blue Valley Northwest High. The winner will meet the Overland Park Aquinas-Olathe South winner in the state semifinals later this week.
Lawrence, seeded No. 4 in the four-team northeast quarterfinals, advanced with victories over Emporia (2-1) and Leavenworth (1-0) last week. Blue Valley North, ranked No. 2 in the state and the northeast's top seed, bashed Blue Valley, 5-0, behind Jon Benevides' three goals to advance.
"We believe Blue Valley North could definitely underestimate us and that could be to our advantage ... if we have an advantage," Nelson said.
The Lions are making their first quarterfinal appearance in the program's 15-year history.
"We've all decided we have a better shot than people have given us," Nelson said. "Stranger things have happened than a 4 seed beating a 1 seed."
Entering postseason, LHS had lost four in a row. Nelson, though, said those late games and the Lions' record is misleading.
"I think the major factor in our success has been heading off the small mental mistakes that have been causing goals," he said. "We've made mental mistakes that would lose games for us."
A day before beating Leavenworth behind Joey Kelly's goal and Derek Scott's shutout, the Lions and Nelson bleached their hair.
"I believe Joey Kelly and Jamie Peterson were in charge, which is a scary thought," Nelson said.
Somehow LHS assistant David Platt escaped the bleach. If Lawrence wins tonight, Nelson said the Lion aide wouldn't be as fortunate.
"We might have to hold him down on the bus," Nelson said. "It's going to take a couple of bottles to do his mop."