High School Sports

High School Sports

‘Unbelievable’ finish: Free State soccer falls just short of state, loses to Manhattan

Free State soccer players react after their 2-1 loss to Manhattan in their Class 6A regional championship game Thursday in Manhattan.

Free State soccer players react after their 2-1 loss to Manhattan in their Class 6A regional championship game Thursday in Manhattan.

May 20, 2011


— In few sports can one or two plays make a greater difference than in soccer. This time around, Free State High’s girls soccer team was on the wrong side of that hard lesson.

The Firebirds fell just shy of making their first-ever Class 6A state tournament appearance after falling, 2-1, to top-seeded Manhattan on Thursday night.

“It’s unbelievable,” FSHS coach Kelly Barah said.

The Firebirds (10-7-1) stormed out early and looked like the team that downed Junction City, 9-1, on Tuesday evening.

Free State jumped ahead 1-0 in the first minute after Kylee Loneker drilled a perfect cross off of a corner kick to Rylee Fuerst, who headed the ball into the net.

So much for momentum, though.

The Indians answered only minutes later, knocking home a loose ball in the box to tie the game, 1-1.

Though the Firebirds played their game — featuring strong ball possession, crisp passes and well-established scoring chances — Manhattan (16-2) managed to take a 2-1 lead before the end of the half that proved to be the eventual margin.

Free State had plenty of chances to tie the game after the break and had advantages in possession time and scoring opportunities, but couldn’t cash in.

“At the end of the day, it’s who finishes,” Barah said. “We had so many chances, which is the only disappointing part. If that’s the only problem (with how we played), I can live with that.”

Barah lamented the fact that seven seniors — Rachael Hodison, Amanda Moyer, Hillary Yoder, Erin Ice, Mckenzie Dever, Annie Libeer and Madisyn Warriner — won’t be able to continue on with the revitalized program.

But there’s little doubt that the future of Free State’s girls soccer program is bright.

Returning are freshman talents like Fuerst, Maddie Dieker, and Alexa Harmon-Thomas, and other standouts like Elena Auer, Abbey and Chelsea Casady, Margaux Gill, Amber Hicks and Loneker.

Throw in a cast of junior varsity players who went 11-1-3 and outscored opponents 72-6, and the best times still may be yet to come for the Firebirds.

“We’ll continue to build,” Barah said. “But these girls worked so hard all season. They deserved something better.”


Shelley Bock 6 years, 11 months ago

Free State dominated much of the game and probably had double the shots on goal. But, as Ben pointed out, soccer depends on a single play here and there. Soccer is often an unforgiving game when simple errors are made. Such was FS's fate. It was a good run. Next year could be better.

Playing in Manhattan underscores the need for a good record to secure home fields through out the playoffs. Non-NE Kansas referees call a much different game which tends to limit the skills learned through the season.

My compliments to Ben Ward and the Journal-World. I thought that this story would be a three sentence paragraph describing a loss and end of the season. Thanks for the coverage.

Shelley Bock 6 years, 11 months ago

Have you ever been on the field for a soccer game at Anneberg Park in Manhattan? I have. I know the field condition and you have no knowledge about what you talk about.

At the time the new fields were built, the fields used by Lawrence soccer teams were dangerous. Sunflower league teams were concerned about safety, but so were other opponents who came to town to use them. So, in other words, you don't care about player safety? Good to hear that you want to encourage injuries because of poor fields. What a whinner you are!.

Your comment about "blue bloods of Lawrence" shows your lack of understanding. Players on Manhattan, I suppose, are the "blue bloods" of their squad because they can afford to travel to Topeka or Kansas City to play for club teams.

Once again, you don't know anything about what you criticize.

Shelley Bock 6 years, 11 months ago

Again, Jack. you don't know the soccer facts.

Your logic is as follows...Better soccer players develop on poor fields which could potentially be dangerous. So, in order to become skilled, players need to risk injury on a poorly maintained field. I've seen those fields, one where snakes were chased from the pitch, in developing countries. That's not justifiable here.

Again, you don't know what you're talking about. When over 100 schools in the state play soccer, who would a Lawrence club team play? There are no girl club teams in the Spring.

Shelley Bock 6 years, 11 months ago

Jack, you're a worthless critic of something you know nothing. The fields are built and being used, but you obviously continue to whine on and on and on about them. You won't give up because you have no sense of the total educational community.

"Little ol Manhattan" has only 170 more students than Free State.

And you know nothing of how to ref a soccer game. I do and I know who the refs were. I know their skills and experience, which you don't. So, I can make that evaluation. If you can read, I indicated that they call a "much different" game which FS failed to adjust. Manhattan plays a weak competitive schedule and always gets a home field advantage.

Grow up and move on.

Shelley Bock 6 years, 11 months ago

When was that said, Jack? Yes, Lawrence schools are being closed. Are you getting confused? You may know school closure facts, but you don't know soccer.

Shelley Bock 6 years, 11 months ago

I didn't know that Lawrence High and Free State combined squads for this game. Oh, my I missed that one.

Shelley Bock 6 years, 11 months ago

Jack you said "little o'l Manhattan". It wasn't I.

Shelley Bock 6 years, 11 months ago

Jack, I've noticed because unlike you it does impact on my world. School closure is being driven by a lack of money coming in from the State and changing local demographics. That has nothing to do with the fields.

Gold plated sports fields? Go to Topeka or Johnson County for such things. Obviously, you haven't been to any of these fields.

I personally resent being called a "blue blood elitist" who eats caviar while being clueless about the world. Ever live outside of Kansas in a developing country eating rice and beans daily and planting acres of crops by hand? I have. Don't dump that "elitest" title on me.

Didn't blame the loss on the reffing. Just noted that FS didn't adjust to a different style.

Have you ever seen a soccer game? Have you ever referred a soccer game? Again, you speak about what you know not.

Gary Denning 6 years, 11 months ago

Assuming the game was at Annaberg in Manhattan and not at CICO, you need to know that Annaberg started as a private enterprise sports facility and went bust, so Manhattan picked it up very cheaply.

As far as officiating, it is true that officials call different games in different parts of the state, but that will always be the case and kids need to adjust.

And let's quit arguing about school closings vs. athletic fields. By consolidating attendence centers, the school district saves lots of bucks by having appropriate class sizes and by not maintaining additional facilities. The capital outlay money used on the sports facilities could not be used to subsidize the teachers, admin, food service, secretaries and maintenance folks at the closed school, so please get over that argument.

Hop2It 6 years, 11 months ago

Hello Everyone....just ignore the rest of conversation below if know anything about soccer.

Hop2It 6 years, 11 months ago

Yes nice coverage..and even a picture! Good job girls.

rivercitymom 6 years, 11 months ago

This is an outstanding group of young women. Way to go Firebirds! Chins up, you played HARD all season.

SoccerGenius 6 years, 11 months ago

A very good year. Congratulations to the Free State side!!! The best news is the next 2-3 years WILL be even better.

Clickker 6 years, 11 months ago

The next 2-3 years these gals should be very good. I am not close to this program, but I was with some parents at Johnnys the other night who said there are 2, maybe 3 8th grade girls who could step in and start next year. If thats the case...should be good for the future

Prana 6 years, 11 months ago

Wow - not sure where this comment section went awry before Hop2it stepped in (thank you, by the way)....We should all be proud of a team from OUR city representing US in the fashion they did. This has nothing to do with affluence, school closures, etc. It has to do with a fine group of young ladies who conditioned for several months prior to practicing 5-6 days a week, giving it their all, and trying to represent the city of Lawrence (including you JackRipper) in the best and most honorable way they could and playing their hearts out. Let's refocus our comments on the intent of the article and find other more controvesial articles if you want to argue just for the sake of argument.

catndog 6 years, 11 months ago

Jack...did you get cut from your Jr High sports team?

Okay I will behave. Please do I follow up article on the LHS season, too. It ended with two sentences about a loss.

BigAl 6 years, 11 months ago

I think you hit the nail on the head. No one should be as sad and petty as Jack. Life is way too short for people like him. The best thing to do is ignore people like him.

He just doesn't get it. Never will.

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