WICHITA, Kan.—The Kapaun Mt. Carmel soccer program has had moments of appearing like one of the teams in the City League to beat this season. However the title of top dog in the GWAL belongs to Wichita Northwest. The Grizzlies are the defending 6A state champions, and coming into the game had last lost in the 2010 state semifinal game, a winning streak that includes a 1-0 win over the Crusaders in this year’s Titan Classic.
But an Ian Daley goal in the waning moments of the first half against Northwest made the Crusaders the first team to beat the Grizzlies since Blue Valley North in 2010, and gave Kapaun a heads up advantage over Northwest in the City League race in a 1-0 win.
“We knew they were going to be a hard game,” said Daley. “But we felt confident because we’ve improved a lot since the last time we played them.”
Although Northwest graduated a large class of ultra-talented seniors from last season’s state championship team, Kapaun was not without its share of question marks coming into the season; namely the loss of goalkeeper Kobi Mashnouk.
“We were worried about defense and goalkeeping at the beginning of the season,” said Kapaun head coach Alan Shepherd. “But to shut down a team like Northwest, I think (the Crusaders) have proven themselves tonight.”
Goalkeeping may have been a question mark going into this game, but during, senior keeper Logan McCully was a solid as they come. Two monumental saves in the second half, one diving to his right on a cross, and the other a blast of his shin guard on a corner kick, preserved not only the shutout, but more importantly the win.
“You can never replace a goalie like Kobi Mashnouk,” said McCully. “He was just a big, strong, physical man. You couldn’t replace him. But I stepped up, and I especially showed tonight, with those two big saves that I had, and led my team across. Ian Daley had a great goal over there. But filling up those shoes is a great honor for me too.”
Kapaun controlled the possession for most of the game, and emphasized ball control and picking spots to strike rather than a wasted volume barrage on the net. Although the Crusaders were playing keep away with Northwest, the opportunities to strike were just not developing.
They were not developing until the final minute of the first half, when Daley got a through ball from Austin Flores down the left side. Daley dribbled it all the way down to the end line and took it toward the goal. With no angle to really shoot at, Daley managed to thread the ball between the keeper and the near post, while still tucking it inside the far post with 35 seconds remaining in the first half.
“I beat one of the defenders on the line,” said Daley. “Then the keeper thought I was going to play a ball across so he gave me the near post and I just slid it in.”
A late goal at the end of a half in a close game would be a back breaker to most teams. Northwest is not most teams. In the second half, the Grizzlies ratcheted up the attack, and had two golden opportunities stolen away by some acrobatic saves from McCully that allowed Kapaun to hang on to the victory.
“Honestly, time just went in complete slow motion,” said McCully of his first big save of the second half. “It was the slowest motion it has ever gone in my life. The ball just hit the ground and spun up. I looked over and just jumped to the side and got my hand on it and pulled it into myself. The second one I was just doing what I am supposed to do, making myself big and try to block as much of the goal as I can and luckily it hit off my shin guard.”
Both teams were ranked No. 4 by the coaches, Northwest in 6A, and Kapaun in 5A coming into the game. With the win, the Crusaders stay undefeated in league play while the Grizzlies suffer their first defeat since 2010.