Olathe — For the second year in a row, the Lawrence High boys soccer team’s season came to an end with a playoff loss to Olathe Northwest at College Boulevard Activity Center.
And for the second season in a row, the end came in heartbreaking fashion, as the Ravens knocked off the Lions, 2-1, in double overtime Tuesday in their Class 6A regional game.
Despite jumping out to a 1-0 lead behind a nifty goal from senior forward Tim Thompson 20 minutes into the game, the Lions lost control of the game almost as quickly as they gained it. Perhaps jacked up by jumping out to an early lead against a team that had beaten them 4-0 earlier this season, the Lions let their focus slip seconds after the score, and that paved the way for the Ravens to tie it.
“Unfortunately, we let our shields down after our goal, and two minutes later, they tied it up on a goal that probably should’ve never happened, but did,” LHS coach Matt Anderson said.
The two teams played the rest of regulation scoreless and went to OT tied at 1. In the first overtime, the Lions had a couple of chances to end the game, but came up just short. Senior Derek Roush, who was moved up to the front of the Lions’ attack from defense because of his size and aggressive nature, narrowly missed on a couple of scoring chances during the first 10-minute extra session.
Like they had done all game, the Lions controlled the first OT with precision passing and a confident attack.
“We were very crisp, we really moved the ball well, and we exposed them in the middle, which we really thought was an area we could take advantage of,” Anderson said.
Although the two teams moved into a second 10-minute overtime period, that one did not last long. The Ravens scored the game-winner 12 seconds into the second OT and, with it, ended the Lions’ season.
“Our formation was set a little too high on the kickoff,” Anderson said. “They saw it, they attacked, and we couldn’t recover in time. Couple inches here or a couple inches there, and things could have been different.”
Despite the loss, which set the team’s final record at 4-12-1, Anderson praised the play of his entire squad, particularly junior goalkeeper Julio Salazar.
“Julio was fantastic in goal all game,” Anderson said. “He had command of the 18-yard line for all of two seconds, but in this game, unfortunately, sometimes that’s all it takes.”
The loss brings to a close one of the most difficult seasons in recent memory for the LHS soccer program. Armed with skill and experience from a deep and talented team in 2008, LHS failed to get rolling in 2009 and, after starting the year 2-2-1, closed it with 10 losses in its final 12 games. The Lions also came up on the short end of six shutouts this season, including a stretch of three in a row midway through the year.
“I told the guys after the game that I had some concerns midway through the season,” Anderson said. “But the product that was on field tonight was the way we should play and can play every night, and I was proud of the fact that we showed up when it counted. This is not something that should happen once a year, though. This is the way it should be all season. Hopefully some of this will carry over into next year and be something we can build on.”