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.”


catndog 2 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.


Prana 2 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.


SoccerGenius 2 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.


rivercitymom 2 years, 11 months ago

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


Hop2It 2 years, 11 months ago

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


Shelley Bock 2 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.


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