Wichita East has zeroed in on learning to play a complete 80 minutes.
On Saturday, the Blue Aces slipped up again for a short stint in the second half, allowing Trinity Academy a 1-0 lead. Whether for pleasure or punishment, the Blue Aces tacked on 20 more minutes of game time until it wrapped up a 2-1 double overtime victory over the Knights.
“We’ve been working on not just playing 60 of the 80 minutes, but to play the whole game and not to slack off,” said Dylan Gruntzel, East head coach. “To play a team like that – a team you know is always going to hustle, always be a hard-working team – shows how hard your guys are going to work.”
Throughout the first half, East dominated the field, repeatedly pressing the offense forward. Goals, however, were not existent. Whether from a late stop from Trinity’s defense or a shot off the goal post, the Aces never found the back of the net. The teams went into halftime tied 0-0.
Momentum suggested East would eventually put in a goal for a win, but that outcome was in danger after John Long poked in a Trinity goal for a 1-0 advantage. East had fallen back on bad habits, its intensity slipping.
Refocused, the Aces’ offensive press broke through. Nick Cho bounced in a ricocheted ball off his head for a score to tie the game.
“We just followed the second ball,” said senior Jonathan Alvarado. “Before, we’d give up on the first ball and we would never win the second one.”
The Aces’ energy continued into overtime. In the second extra period, Abel Madrigal lasered a direct kick past Landon Kaye for the game-winner.
The triumph improved East to 4-2 on the year. Both losses came by one goal, highlighting the rejuvenated mentality of the Aces.
“It feels good, giving it our all,” said Madrigal with Alvarado translating. “We’re always ready to play whoever.”
The loss continued a rough early slate for the Knights.
“If we would have possessed a little better in the midfield in the first half, I think it would have been different,” said Tom Nykamp, Trinity head coach. “We played OK. We probably didn’t play our best, but East is a very skilled team.”