Three teams from the city league have won a state soccer title dating back to 1989 with the Wichita North Redskins. North hosted the defending state champions of Northwest tonight in a city league rivalry that would send one team to the state semifinals and send one team into the off-season.
Last year the Wichita Northwest Grizzlies beat the Wichita North Redskins 4-2 in the state quarterfinals game and went on to win their second state title. Tonight was a chance for redemption for the North soccer team.
After two scoreless 40-minute halves the game was forced into its first over time which ended up being barely enough for Northwest. With four seconds left, junior Andres Lleras scored the first and only goal of the game knocking the Redskins out of the playoffs for the second year in a row.
As the first over time was coming to a close, Northwest's Bailey Bryand was working in the midfield against Redskin defender Isaac Reyes when he kicked a long-shot pass to Lleras. In a race between Lleras and North’s goalkeeper Bryan Hernandez, the ball was redirected as it tipped Hernandez's foot. Lleras hustled after the ball toward the corner of the goal, kicked his left foot across his body and rolled the ball into the net.
“We played hard the whole game and showed a lot of heart,” said Lleras. “We just kept fighting the whole game and believed in ourselves. He just [Bailey Bryand] gave me a good ball and we made it happen.”
On October 4th, the Redskins beat the Grizzlies 3-2. Northwest head coach Bobby Bribiesca said there was no way they would let it happen again, especially when a state title was on the line.
“We have been unlucky with city league games,” said Bribiesca. “Of our five losses, four of them have been in city league games. All of them, in my opinion we had chances to win. That’s a very good team, they’ve got some athletes 24 [Juan Barron] was killing us in the first half and then 13 [Cobi Black] up front is a good athlete. And of course Isaac Reyes he’s great.”
Senior captain Jake Carter says the Grizzlies have been in the state playoffs three years in a row and know what they need to do to continue their success.
“We just got to have good practices,” said Carter. “There are good teams up there especially in the Kansas City area, we are just going to have to bring our A game and I know we will.”
Preparing for the next opponent is tough for Coach Bribiesca and the Grizzlies. At this point in the state playoffs, all teams are reseeded and placed into a new bracket which disables immediate knowledge of your semifinal match up.
“We won’t know until tonight,” said Bribiesca. “Believe it or not I have scouts all over the state. We go in there, we are going to be prepared. But we are going to enjoy this win today.”