There will be a Lawrence city showdown soccer champion after all.
When Free State (9-6-2) and Lawrence High (7-7-3) met on Oct. 13, the teams played to a scoreless, double-overtime tie.
Now that the teams are meeting again at 6 tonight in the 6A regional playoffs, only one team can emerge the victor.
“It can’t end in a tie this time.” LHS coach Mike Murphy said.
It was evident the first time around, but there is no shortage of talent on either side.
FSHS is showcasing standout forwards Zack Thompson, Jake Walter and Hunter Peirce, while LHS is sporting goalie Tanner Click, with Justin Riley and Zach Wustefeld anchoring the offense.
Murphy doesn’t envision any wholesale changes for LHS from the first meeting.
“Nothing too drastic,” he said on his adjustments for tonight. “We still had some opportunities in that game.”
The Firebirds have home-field advantage once again, and if it’s anything like last time, the bleachers will be teeming with more fans than they can hold. Murphy said his Lions won’t be too worried about the location because it takes pressure off being the home team, and it is close enough to house their own fans.
FSHS and LHS both play tough defense and make sure to control the ball. It’s no wonder the teams tied last time. The opposing players are friends and work together during the offseason in club soccer, so there is a lot of familiarity, FSHS coach Kelly Barah said.
“They know each other’s tendencies,” Barah said after the first matchup. “We’re trying to possess the ball and so are they.”
LHS senior Chandler Thomann said this is obviously the biggest game of the year for either squad. Whatever the outcome, rest assured that there will be no shortage of shots or effort on either side.
“That’s all Lawrence is,” Thomann said. “We just go for it. That’s the only way I was taught.”