Wildcats suffer heartbreaking loss in semis
As Chris Burton put it, "Soccer is a funny game."
The soccer fates turned against the South Summit boys’ soccer team in the 2A state semifinals Friday at Jordan High School.
Up 2-1 in the 65th minute, thanks to two goals from senior midfielder Pat Schulz, the Wildcats were seemingly destined for a long-awaited berth in the state title game.
However, as Burton, South Summit’s head coach said, soccer is funny.
St. Joseph Catholic was awarded a penalty kick and capitalized, knotting the match up at 2-2.
Then, with about 10 minutes left, Jayhawks’ star midfielder Dino Soto sent in a long ball from near midfield.
"No one can really explain how the last goal happened," Burton said, laughing. "Dino Soto didn’t even realize that he scored the goal. It was more a cross he wasn’t trying to shoot it. It just floated right in over the goalie’s head. Everyone kind of stood there stunned, and it was just a fortunate event for them.
"But I credit them. They played a great game the last 15 minutes."
With that fortuitous goal, the title-chasing dreams of South Summit came to another heart wrenching end 3-2.
"It was unbelievable," Burton said. "We just couldn’t quite get another one in there."
Understandably, one of the most difficult parts of the deflating loss was seeing the seniors, who had helped win back-to-back Region 14 titles, end their careers on such a painful note.
"The senior class has been outstanding in all sports, including soccer," Burton said. "They have really played a huge part in giving South Summit soccer a name that everybody respects now. They should be extremely proud of all of their accomplishments in the last two years.
"It’s been an outstanding year and such a fun year. Even though we didn’t quite accomplish what we were hoping for, I think, even though we lose a lot of talent and a lot of great seniors, I hope that we have a good system in place that these young kids are learning and learning by example."
South Summit (13-3-1) says goodbye to the likes of Schulz, offensive stars Levi Thompson, Trevor Rydalch, Casey Lundgreen and Brayden Powers along with Harrison Littledike, Tate Weller and Spencer King.
Thompson, Rydalch and Lundgreen combined for 34 goals this season.
Burton said he was still having a hard time processing what went wrong in those last 15 minutes and was especially remorseful for this senior group that, to him, has left a mark on a program that won a total of nine matches from 2006 to 2008.
"As most teams do, when you get that far you’re on the brink of taking that next step and you don’t quite make it it’s extremely hard," he said. "We really felt like this was the year we could take that next step. It was hard, but the guys, I just asked them to give it all that they had, and they did.
"It just didn’t work out for us."
As fate would have it, St. Joseph saw its first-ever state title slip away in the 2A state championship match Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium when a 1-0 lead vanished when Waterford scored two goals in the final three minutes of the match to steal its second-straight 2A title.
South Summit had defeated Waterford twice this season.
A funny game, indeed.
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