The Tonganoxie boys soccer team earned its second-straight comeback victory Thursday at Basehor-Linwood, but most of the fireworks occurred before either team got on the scoreboard.
A first-half altercation led to three player ejections and left both teams shorthanded for the majority of the game, which Tonganoxie went on to win, 2-1.
Roughly 10 minutes into the first half, Tonganoxie senior Zack Tallent collided with Basehor-Linwood’s Trey Kincheloe when both players converged on a loose ball. Tempers flared among players on the field — and between several parents in the stands — before officials issued red cards to Tallent and Kincheloe, as well as THS senior John Lean.
Per Kansas State High School Activities Association rules, ejected players can’t be replaced, so Tonganoxie was forced to play with nine players and Basehor-Linwood 10 for the remainder of the match. Chieftain coach Brian Kroll said numerous fans from both sides were also ejected before play resumed.
Players began exchanging words about the game on Twitter as early as two days before it happened. Kincheloe sent a tweet at 9:14 p.m. Tuesday — shortly after Tonganoxie’s overtime win at Bonner Springs — that read “Tongies about to have a rude awakening Thursday... Thats all I have to say” (sic).
“It was unfortunate that there was an issue that overshadowed a great match between two talented teams,” Kroll said.
Basehor-Linwood coach Austin Knipp said both schools’ administrations were looking into the brawl, and that the Bobcats were taking it one step at a time.
“For me, I’ve coached that this behavior is inappropriate and is not accepted,” Knipp said. “It’s an unfortunate event that this happened, but I know that we’ll learn from it and move forward.”
Following the scrum, the Bobcats (1-2) went in front on a goal by Zach Ferguson and maintained a 1-0 lead for the rest of the first half.
The Chieftains (2-1) evened the score when senior Matt Saathoff caught the BLHS goalkeeper out of position with 17 minutes left in the second half. They went in front 10 minutes later when sophomore Asher Huseman headed a pass from Saathoff into the back of the net.
The Bobcats failed to answer in the final minutes and Tonganoxie picked up its second win in three days. For the Bobcats, the loss marked their second-straight defeat in four days.
“Even though we were down to nine and they were down to 10, it was a great, great game,” Kroll said.
Knipp added that he thought his team’s response to the prior distraction on the field was good, but that the Bobcats couldn’t move the ball well enough to avoid tiring faster.
“Tongie had great looks that they put away and they ultimately outworked us,” Knipp said. “Today we learn from yesterday and look forward to Topeka Hayden on Tuesday.”
Tonganoxie will open the home portion of its schedule at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 4 against Atchison. Basehor-Linwood will be back in action on the same day at 5:30 p.m. at Topeka Hayden.