It's fair to say Lawrence High girls soccer coach Matt Anderson isn't much of a Leavenworth fan right now.
The fact that the Lions open Class 6A regional play tonight against the Pioneers is only a small part of the equation. It's less about the who, and more about the why.
Thanks to identical 5-8-3 records for the two schools, a coin flip was needed during Saturday's seeding meeting in Olathe to decide which squad would receive the No. 4 seed and a first-round home game.
"The meeting was about five minutes. I called heads, and it came up tails," said Anderson, who garnered the No. 5 seed as a result. "And not only that, we had to take the stuff for Leavenworth because they didn't have a representative down there.
"It would be nice for the karma to take a turn in our favor for once."
For Anderson even to cite such slights shows just how far LHS has progressed heading into today's 6 p.m. matchup at Warren Middle School in Leavenworth.
During his first season at the helm, Anderson has orchestrated a turnaround that has allowed the Lions to score twice as many goals as they did in 2005 (22 to 11), while shaving their goals allowed by almost a third (74 to 27).
As a result, there's no shortage of optimism regarding their rematch with the Pioneers. The two teams played to a 1-all tie on April 27 at the Youth Sports, Inc. fields.
"It was one where we still hadn't put in all of our offense," Anderson said. "We're hopefully going to threaten a lot more (tonight). : I think we've got to continue putting pressure on the defense and make sure our defense gets a rest."
Free State also opens its postseason tonight. The sixth-seeded Firebirds (4-11-1) travel to Manhattan for a 6 p.m. meeting against the third-seeded Indians.
Free State coach Jason Pendleton hopes his squad's strong finish is a sign of a possible postseason breakthrough.
"I feel like we're actually playing pretty well," Pendleton said. "If we can minimize the mistakes at key moments, I think we have a solid chance."
The two teams met at the same point last spring, with Manhattan securing a narrow 2-1 victory, the most recent chapter in the two schools' divergent postseason histories. The Indians consistently have remained a force in the Class 6A soccer ranks, while the Firebirds still are seeking the first postseason victory in the program's nine years.
"They're just a strong group of athletes that are pretty competitive, well coached and have a strong tradition. So you're going up against all those facts," Pendleton said.