Free State got its first victory, Lawrence High was dealt its first defeat, and players from both sides received plenty of bumps and bruises along the way.
That was how it unfolded Tuesday afternoon at Free State High, as the previously winless Firebirds turned in a determined effort to knock off the previously unbeaten Lions, 1-0.
The game's only goal, which came at the 13:06 mark of the second half off of the right foot of freshman Erin Ice, was fitting considering several players were knocked to the ground before the ball crossed the goal line.
Moments after Ice was bumped in the box on a Firebirds scoring chance that never materialized, she once again found herself in the right place at the right time. After senior Logan Keasling filtered the ball up the field and into the Lions box, Free State freshman Rachael Hodison and LHS goalie Emma Lumpe raced toward the loose ball.
"I thought she had the ball, actually," Hodison said. "But I just kept going after because you never know what can happen."
Good thing for the Firebirds. As Lumpe tried to corral the ball, Hodison knocked it off of her hands, and the ball squirted out to the left, beyond Lumpe's reach. From there, Hodison jumped to her feet and chipped the ball to the net, where Ice charged in to ram it home.
"I was just in the right place," Ice said. "That was mostly Rachael."
What made the goal even more remarkable was that the Firebirds' most dangerous offensive weapon, senior Leah Williams, watched it develop from the bench.
"I was getting ready to check back in after catching my breath when we scored," Williams said. "It was pretty nice. I just started jumping up and down on the sideline. It was really exciting for our freshmen and our young players, who showed all day that they're willing to put their bodies on the line."
Although the goal snapped the Firebirds' streak of 267 scoreless minutes against the Lions (dating back to 2007), the game didn't end there. However, as LHS attempted to tie it in the final 13 minutes, the Firebirds (1-2) continued to attack, keeping LHS off balance and limiting the Lions' chances at a game-tying goal.
"I thought our young kids played significant minutes and weren't intimidated by the atmosphere," FSHS coach Jason Pendleton said. "I was definitely pleased with the way we competed, and that goal embodies some of the toughness and tenacity that the team showed today."
For LHS coach Matt Anderson, the day was best summed up by two words: lost opportunities.
"After winning the McPherson Invitational, we talked to our girls about how we were back into Sunflower League play and back in the eastern part of the state," Anderson said. "And we simply didn't answer the bell."
However, Anderson said he didn't expect his team to dwell on Tuesday's loss.
"Our season is not done just because we lost to our rival," he said. "It does not leave a good taste in our mouths, but the great thing about sports is we get to do it all again in 48 hours."
LHS (3-1) will play host to Sunflower League power Olathe East at 7 p.m. Thursday. Free State, meanwhile, travels to Olathe Northwest and will look to build on the momentum it gained in Tuesday's victory, the first over LHS for the FSHS seniors.
"We're trying not to celebrate too much, and we're trying to keep things in perspective," Ice said. "But it's hard not to get super-happy after beating your rival."