Topeka Washburn Rural defeated Wichita Northwest 2-0 on Saturday to win the Class 6A state soccer championship at the College Boulevard Activity Center. Washburn Rural senior forward Corey Hall led the way for the Junior Blues by scoring the first goal to gain momentum that the Grizzlies could never seem to catch up with. Blue Valley-Northwest took third place after beating Shawnee Mission-East 3-1 in the consolation round.
Washburn Rural shut down the Grizzlies by keeping the ball in Northwest territory for most of the first half, but neither team scored a goal. Hall scored the first goal within the first two minutes of the second half. Junior forward Taylor Tarvin assisted on the goal. Tarvin then scored the second goal unassisted with 17 minutes left to go in the game.
Washburn Rural pressured Northwest by rarely allowing the Grizzlies to come within shooting range. Much of the game was focused at centerfield. Junior Blues coach Brian Hensyel said his team’s strategy remained the same throughout the tournament.
“It was proof that hard work, good solid defense and listening to your coaches ideas, whatever they are, can pay off,” said Coach Hensyel. “They followed every plan to perfection.”
The Junior Blues’ championship win finished off a successful season (16-2-1). Washburn Rural junior goalkeeper Walker Farrar didn’t allow a single goal in the tournament. Hall said the particularly young squad improved greatly this year.
“People stepped up all over the place so my senior class could get what we wanted,” said Hall. “I just tried to lead the team and keep us from getting down at all. When that happens it eats us alive.”
Hensyel said Hall had to push the team all year to reach this point.
“He’s our one returning starter,” said Hensyel. “He had to step up big time. He’s had 15 goals on the year, he’s a good captain and a solid leader, and as our top scorer all year we’ve always found ways to get the ball to him.”
The Grizzlies pushed hard to catch up in the final minutes but their offense, even bolstered with a few extras up front, couldn’t muster up a goal. Northwest coach Bobby Bribiesca said that his team played well in the first half and held its own, but once the Junior Blues gained momentum the Grizzlies could never recover. He also emphasized Hall’s abilities on the field.
“Today we went in hoping to score an early goal and then defend and see what happens,” Bribiesca said. “But we couldn’t make it happen. Number 14 is for real: a good, strong forward.”
Blue Valley-Northwest coach Rick Pribyl, who has coached high school soccer for 26 years, said his team’s win for third place came down to ball control.
“We just kept the ball on the ground,” Pribyl said. “We kept it simple with the one-two pass. They had a late game last night, so we had a couple hours of sleep on them.”