Maize South High School faced a challenge when it moved from 4A this fall, said coach Brian Hutton. He added that the depth of talent was different among 5A schools than teams from smaller classes.
“We just said in 5A there’s really no easy teams,” Hutton recalled.
Maize South, a No. 6 seed, took on 11th-seeded Wichita West in this week’s regional. The Mavericks brought a 10-5-1 record to their home match against the 6-9-1 Pioneers. Maize South prevailed 4-2.
Hutton said the Mavericks’ goals Tuesday were to stay disciplined, refuse to allow the stress of regionals to get to them and “do the basic things well.”
“We just had to play good, fundamental soccer,” he continued.
Junior Yobani Delgado contributed the first two goals for Maize South. He scored early, at the 34:51 mark, and the next goal took place with 24:11 left in the first half.
The Mavericks picked up their third goal with 11:30 remaining in the half. Wichita West and Maize South athletes scrambled for the ball in front of the net and then a West player kicked it out, but a waiting Conner Moore managed to score. The junior brought Maize South’s total to three.
It appeared West might get on the board before halftime. The Pioneers launched a shot that looked promising, but Maverick sophomore goalkeeper Bailey Benter intervened. As a result, Maize South entered the locker room with a 3-0 lead.
West appeared poised to score with 18:45 left in the game, but as freshman Alan Ibarra dribbled past Benter, the goalkeeper snagged the ball. Maize South received its third yellow card – juniors Emerson Romero, Evan Miller and Delgado were whistled with the penalty – at the 14:34 mark.
However, junior Alex Green capped the Mavericks’ offensive flurry with a goal about one minute later. That put the home team ahead 4-0.
West finally responded with 7:58 remaining, when junior Wesley Killian headed the ball into the net. Senior Jordan Mosteller concluded the game with another Pioneer goal, just one second before the buzzer sounded.
Maize South, which won 4-2, will advance to the regional final Thursday at Great Bend. The host Panthers, a No. 3 seed, topped Goddard Eisenhower 7-1 Tuesday.
Maize South is not familiar with Great Bend, but Hutton said he thought the Mavericks could compete with the talented Panthers. He said the boys are passing well, gaining momentum in the midfield and being more patient in setting up plays.
They are used to unfamiliar situations this year. In addition to switching classifications, they moved from the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League’s Division IV to Division II. Maize South placed second in the division.
“It’s not bad at all,” said Hutton. “We missed it by one game.”
The boys hope to advance to 5A state quarterfinals after falling to Rose Hill in last year’s 4-1A regional final.
“We’ve improved as the season’s gone on,” Hutton remarked. “Of course, you can always get better at finishing.”
Maize South’s overall record is 11-5-1. Great Bend is 13-4 on the season.