6A girls soccer: Maize runs into familiar roadblock
TOPEKA If Blue Valley Northwest’s first goal of the Class 6A girls soccer championship didn’t do it to the Maize Eagles on Saturday, perhaps the second one did.
Huskies midfielder Cierra Bryant fired a shot from well outside of the box. It had plenty of steam, but Maize goalkeeper Marissa Allen had it squared up.
In an instant, however, the ball sailed through Allen’s hands, caromed off the left post and settled into the net with 10 minutes to play in the first half. BV Northwest senior Kara Priest completed a hat trick 10 minutes into the second half, and the Huskies rolled to a 6-0 victory at Hummer Sports Park for their second consecutive 6A title and third in four years.
“It’s the fear that it’s going to be the same, so people are just scared that it’s going to turn out like that,” Maize senior Hadley Davis said of the Eagles’ third lopsided state tournament loss to BV Northwest. “It comes back to the effort thing.”
BV Northwest posted 7-0 and 5-0 semifinal victories against Maize on its way to the 2011 and ’13 titles. With the Eagles in position for even higher stakes after defeating Shawnee Mission West 4-2 to reach the championship, the outcome was too familiar.
“I think today we just really knew that this was the state championship and this is what we’ve worked for the whole season,” said Priest, who broke a scoreless tie in the 24th minute with a left-footed goal.
Priest’s nifty move left a Maize defender stumbling and tilted the scales toward BV Northwest in what had been an evenly played first half. As the game progressed, the crisp-passing Huskies started using their speed to split creases in Maize’s back line.
“Their movement off the ball is ridiculous,” Davis said. “They’re a fast team, and our speed of play wasn’t up to par. They kind of had one up on us from the get-go with their speed.”
That was equally true on defense. BV Northwest didn’t allow a shot in the first half, and bottled up Eagles sophomore forward Katie McClure.
McClure, who scored three goals against SM West in the semifinals, attempted the first shot of the second half. It ricocheted off BV Northwest defender Haley Sutter, who was with her step for step.
“It was really hard for me to get free because I knew they were always on my back, man-marking me,” McClure said. “I just tried to connect with other people, but we couldn’t do it.”
Maize coach Jay Holmes changed offensive formations to start the second half, adding an extra forward. The Eagles had some early scoring chances, but Priest gave BV Northwest the first goal of the second half with 33:59 remaining.
“You’ve got to try to mix things up against a team like this,” Holmes said. “I was just hopeful that we could get that first goal and that might change the momentum. We weren’t able to do that, and their third goal was just a back breaker.”
Maize completed a 19-2 season with losses to BV Northwest and BV North. Their quest for progress against the state’s top eastern teams continues.
“They have good size all over the field,” Holmes said. “Certainly we’re going to have to address that by getting in the weight room with some of these kids.
“If we gain a little more size and a little more pace, hopefully that will make a difference next year.”
First half—BV Northwest, Priest (unassisted), Bryant (unassisted). Second half—BV Northwest, Priest (Sullivan), Priest (Fiorito), Reeder (unassisted), Sullivan (Beischel). Shots—BV Northwest, 6-10—16; Maize 0-5—5. Saves—BV Northwest, Watson 0-2—2; Maize, Allen, 3-3—6.