When Bishop Carroll Head Coach Greg Rauch examines the league titles collected throughout the ages at the school, he notices one sport where there is an unexpected shortage.
Despite the successful individual athletes to come through the program, girls’ soccer league championships have been rare.
Rauch set out to change it. So while some coaches may dismiss a Greater Wichita Athletic League title as nothing more than a stepping stone, that did not apply after Bishop Carroll clinched at least a share of the title Tuesday with a 1-0 victory at Wichita Northwest.
“To be real honest with you, that is huge for the girls. To me, it’s huge,” Rauch said. “I thought that was something we could address, and in two years, we have. To do it back-to-back in a league like this is very difficult.”
The Golden Eagles (15-1, 7-0) can take the title outright with a tie or victory over Wichita East on Thursday.
Carroll denied Northwest (9-6, 5-2) three major opportunities with its win – a chance to share the GWAL title, a home win and a chance to send its seniors out with a triumph on Senior Night.
For much of the first half, Northwest put itself in a position to make it all happen.
The Grizzlies crashed the middle of the field, clogging the passing lanes between the 40-yard-lines. While Carroll tried to combat it with long passes, Northwest razed the Carroll defense, but never produced a clean shot at the net.
Carroll fended off the rush and held the game to a 0-0 tie at halftime. By not capitalizing on the opportunities presented, Northwest was doomed.
“We’ve been in the same situation,” said Bobby Bribiesca, Northwest head coach. “We’re in the game, we’re just having a hard time getting composed when we get in the attacking third.
“I told the girls at halftime that this is a game that if you make one mistake, you’re going to come out on the losing end. That’s what we did.”
With 25 minutes remaining in the game, Carroll senior Kiley Burris received a pass near the 18-yard-line. Burris admits she was not aiming for a specific target. In fact, she said she “wasn’t really thinking at all.” She just wanted to make the goalkeeper make a play.
The end result was a ball placed right over the outstretched hands of Northwest’s Mackenzie Lahar. A 1-0 advantage would be plenty for a Carroll defense that had allowed only two goals in its previous 14 games.
“Our defense is definitely solid,” Burris said. “We knew if we just put away one and just kept them at zero, it’d be good.”
Thursday’s game with East will mark Carroll’s fourth game in seven days, but Burris said tough practices keep the team amped up. And by handling East, the Golden Eagles can deny rival Kapaun Mt. Carmel a shot to sneak in and grab a piece of the league title.“It means a lot, but we’re definitely going to go for not sharing. I don’t like to share,” Burris said.