Baldwin girls soccer cruises past Ottawa, on to quarterfinals; more from regional finals

photo by: Henry Greenstein/Journal-World

The Baldwin girls soccer team poses with the regional title plaque after beating Ottawa on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Baldwin City.

For its second straight regional playoff game, the Baldwin girls soccer team overwhelmed its opponent on offense from the opening kickoff.

The Bulldogs scored two goals in the first seven minutes Thursday evening to jump ahead of 13th-seeded Ottawa, plus two more in the first five of the second half, as part of an 8-0 victory over the Cyclones for a 4-1A regional title.

“There’s kind of — we call it a rule of five, law of five in soccer, where the first five minutes (and) last five minutes of a half, you’re going to get most of your goals,” Baldwin coach Drew Ising said. “And so we figured if we want to step out in this situation and really set a tone, you got to do it right away.”

Senior captain Bailey Smith scored four goals to lead Baldwin, while Nora Prather had a brace and Addy Ediger and Alex McBride added one goal each, with McBride driving in a free kick for the second game in a row.

“We’ve won a few regional championships in a row, and I think we know what it takes to come out strong,” Smith said, “and we knew going into this Ottawa came off of a win in overtime (a 3-2 upset over Atchison on Tuesday) and they had a really good game, so we knew we needed to come out strong for this game.”

Baldwin advances to the 4-1A quarterfinals, to be played on Tuesday. KSHSAA has reseeded the Bulldogs as the No. 3 team of four regional champions and they will play second-seeded Topeka-Cair Paravel/Eskridge-Mission Valley at Topeka-Bettis Family Sports Complex on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

“I think that we need to really lock in and kind of hone in some of our possession, find feet, and continue what we’re doing,” Smith said. “We all have a great mindset, we’re ready to keep going and do what it takes, so I think we’re in a really good space, and I’m really excited to see what the next couple games hold.”

Just two minutes into the game Ottawa’s Kaydin Miller had the first quality chance on a bouncing ball into the box, but she misfired on a volley.

Instead, the Bulldogs took an immediate advantage when the Cyclones struggled to clear a corner kick and Prather knocked in a low shot off the rebound.

Baldwin doubled that lead in the seventh minute when Smith fired with her right foot across the goal and got past Peyton Claar for the second time.

Claar was, however, able to get a stop when both Rylee Holder and Ediger were in on goal trying to get on the other end of a cross from the right wing.

At the other end, Dylan Nichols created occasional problems for the Bulldogs’ defense throughout the half, pressuring Baldwin’s fullbacks and even winning some opportunities on the outside of the box.

However, for the most part, Baldwin remained in control of possession and threatened with a series of corner kicks. On one in the 17th minute, the ball hit a Cyclone defender and bounced off the underside of the crossbar, but did not go in and Claar was able to grab it.

In the 23rd minute, Prather played a through ball to Ediger with pinpoint accuracy, and the senior forward put in another one to boost the lead to 3-0.

The action gave way to a fairly stagnant final 15 minutes of the first half featuring a couple of offside calls on the Bulldogs.

The second half began again at a favorable pace for Baldwin. The Bulldogs needed just 20 seconds to earn a corner kick and less than three minutes for Smith to add to her account with a free kick that got past Claar. Then, in the 45th minute, she completed a hat trick by outmaneuvering defender Emma Cain for a ball just in front of the goal and delivering with a strike right down the middle.

Prather zoomed through the center of the Cyclones’ defense for a sixth goal not long afterward, allowing the Bulldogs to match their scoring total from the first round with more than 27 minutes remaining. Less than three minutes later, it was McBride’s turn to knock in her own goal via free kick.

Smith added her fourth in the 69th minute to cap off the scoring for the day at 8-0.

“My teammates, they got me those balls that I needed to get today, and they’ve been doing a great job of connecting,” Smith said. “So it’s all due to them.”

Lindsee Montenegro Raygoza got a few opportunities up the wing for the Cyclones, but was ruled offside when she tracked down a threatening long ball in the final minutes.

The Bulldogs played much of the late second half with a lineup heavy on reserves and younger players.

“It was great. We got everybody in today, and we held the shutout,” Ising said. “I was a defensive player, I was a goalie when I was a kid, and so the fact that we could play everybody, in a high-leverage game and still maintain that defensive pressure, and still keep that shutout? That’s the best thing we could have done.”

Next up are the quarterfinals, with winners going to state in Wichita.

“We got to get one more win against a really good team, right,” Ising said. “… We put ourselves in this situation, right? All you can ask for is to get yourself to the game, and then we’re going to let it happen how it happens.”

photo by: Henry Greenstein/Journal-World

Baldwin senior Bailey Smith runs through a tunnel of supporters after beating Ottawa on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Baldwin City.

photo by: Henry Greenstein/Journal-World

Baldwin junior Marin Drummond (6) and senior Claire Johnson (16) run through a tunnel of supporters after beating Ottawa on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Baldwin City.

photo by: Henry Greenstein/Journal-World

Baldwin coach Drew Ising runs through a tunnel of supporters after beating Ottawa on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Baldwin City.

Free State’s Cinderella run continues

The Free State soccer team kept its season alive on the road in Derby Thursday night, surviving an equalizer by the Panthers’ Amelia Leggett in the 72nd minute of regulation, followed by four scoreless overtime periods, to take the regional title in penalty kicks with a final score of 2-1 (4-2).

The Firebirds have now won back-to-back playoff games far from home, against No. 3 Dodge City and No. 11 Derby after going 0-8-1 on the road during the regular season and entering the 6A West Regional bracket as its 14th-seeded team.

They will play a quarterfinal matchup against Topeka-Washburn Rural (15-3), the No. 1 overall seed in the 6A West Regional, at the Junior Blues’ home field at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The Junior Blues outscored their two regional opponents by a combined tally of 18-0.

Eudora’s season comes to close

The Cardinals had knocked off Tonganoxie at home 5-2 in a strong start to their regional run on Monday, but ran into a well-rested Cair Paravel squad. The Lions, coming off a bye, beat Eudora 6-0 on Thursday night in Topeka to take a 4-1A regional title.

Eudora concludes its season at 10-8 overall and says goodbye to 10 seniors. Cair Paravel will face Baldwin.


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