High School Sports

High School Sports

Free State soccer drops double-OT heartbreaker, 1-0

Free State senior Alec Heline (15) breaks up the field past Topeka High’s Carlos Munoz, at middle left, and Blake Gettler, at far left. The Firebirds lost a regional game, 1-0 in double overtime, on Tuesday at FSHS.

Free State senior Alec Heline (15) breaks up the field past Topeka High’s Carlos Munoz, at middle left, and Blake Gettler, at far left. The Firebirds lost a regional game, 1-0 in double overtime, on Tuesday at FSHS.

October 27, 2010

Advertisement

In soccer, as in most sports, numbers never seem to capture the whole story. But ultimately, the ones on the scoreboard when time runs out carry the most weight.

Free State junior forward Jacob Walter heads the ball upfield during the first half against Topeka High Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010 at Free State High School.

Free State junior forward Jacob Walter heads the ball upfield during the first half against Topeka High Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010 at Free State High School.

Free State high senior midfielder Preston Newsome (8) works for control against Topeka High forward Luis Blanco. The Firebirds fell, 1-0 in double overtime, on Tuesday at FSHS.

Free State high senior midfielder Preston Newsome (8) works for control against Topeka High forward Luis Blanco. The Firebirds fell, 1-0 in double overtime, on Tuesday at FSHS.

For the Free State High soccer team, that meant a bitter end to the season on Tuesday, as it fell, 1-0 in double-overtime, to Topeka High in a 6A regional playoff game at FSHS.

The match was essentially a microcosm of the Firebirds’ season: control of the game via stifling possession of the ball, sound defense and numerous scoring chances — but an inability to consistently put the ball in the net.

What wasn’t as fitting was the end result for coach Kelly Barah and his nine seniors.

“(We have) a team that constantly has proven they can play with anyone in the league, but not getting the results to show for it is unbelievable,” Barah said. “But that’s the way sports go.”

As Topeka’s James Gragson lined the game-winner past senior keeper Elliott Johnson with 2:30 left in the second overtime, the Trojans sprinted off the field in jubilation.

Johnson, though, lay still on the ground; his Firebird teammates stood scattered around him, apparently in disbelief.

“It just really hurts,” senior Tony Libeer said. “We’ve played as hard as we can all season; we’ve put in a lot. And for all us seniors, it’s the last time we get to play.”

Long after the game, several Firebirds (6-9-2) lingered on the field, kicking at the turf or staring off into the night sky.

Barah, also emotional after the game, commended his seniors — and his entire team — for their effort this season.

“The thing that I really wish people could see is the character of the players that I have,” he said.

“I love coming to coach people who work hard and give it all every single day,” he added.

In a game devoid of scoring, Free State’s defense truly shined. Will Libeer and his brother Tony, also a senior, stood out in particular.

Twice in the first half, Will Libeer thwarted a scoring chance by Topeka forward Adrian Martinez.

On the first instance, Libeer used his body to get position on Martinez, and slowed him up enough to steal the ball and clear it away.

The second was even more impressive.

On a rush toward the net, Martinez dribbled around Johnson, who had sprinted forward and slid to scoop away the ball, creating a wide-open look at the net.

Martinez rifled a shot that appeared to be a sure goal; only Libeer came sliding in at the last minute to deflect the ball away.

FSHS’s defense continued to stifle the Trojans, often holding them to one-and-done offensive possessions.

All the while, the Firebirds — led by junior Hunter Peirce and senior Alec Heline — mounted several offensive chances, including many that nearly found the back of the net.

As was the case many times this season, though, the Firebirds could not capitalize with a goal before their opponent.

Barah, though somewhat at a loss for words after the game, acknowledged the pain of the loss was lessened some because of how much he felt the team grew.

“It’s heartbreaking already as it is,” Barah said. “But all in all, it was a great year for us.”

Note: The following Free State seniors played their last game on Tuesday night: Elliott Johnson, Will Libeer, Tony Libeer, Preston Newsome, Dylan Bergstrom, Diego Gonzalez, Nathan Bowman, Alec Heline and Ian Simmons.

Comments

birdfan999 4 years, 5 months ago

One bench player was utilized to sub the entire game. Oh wait....there was one more used at 10 minutes of regulation play. Lessons learned for a new coach?

fearsadness14 4 years, 5 months ago

Barah doesn't have any size to work with, and the bench lacks speed. This is the smallest firebird team I can remember going back at least 8 years. With injuries to Diego, we were already playing numerous youngsters/ JV kids. Hopefully some of those young kids will grow into young men quickly!

SoccerGenius 4 years, 5 months ago

birdfan - If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Simliar line-ups produced the best performances all year. Those would be OE, SMNW, and SME. The story of this game was simple - difficulty putting the ball in the goal. It happens. At the one and done part of the season you have to play your top goal producers. Coach did that. I give him high marks for his first season at the helm. He will only get better.

birdfan999 4 years, 5 months ago

Double OT. The boys were tired and let one slip past. End of season. Nuff said. I can't give the high marks, but I am sure I will in the coming seasons. You can't beat experience.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.