Hayden coach Klaus Kreutzer and Rose Hill's Jerry Treat both knew how much of an impact the wind could have on the game. More importantly, neither of them wanted to be the team playing into it in the second half.
“Luckily we got the coin toss and had our choice,” Kreutzer said as Hayden elected to take the wind in the second period.
“We didn’t want the wind in the first half,” Treat said dejectedly, “that’s what happens when you lose a coin toss in a game like this.”
The Rockets were unable to take advantage of the wind in the first 40 minutes and Hayden made them pay in the last 40 minutes. The Wildcats scored a trio of goals in the second half, shutting out Rose Hill and nabbing a spot in the Class 4-1A state semifinals.
Rose Hill tried to make the best out of the situation and put the pressure on Hayden early. The Rockets best chance to grab a goal came off a strike from 30 yards out by Olivia Hull. The ball deflected off goalkeeper Sarah Pimentel’s hand, then the crossbar, before being cleared away by the Wildcats.
Hayden stuck to their defense-first plan in the first half, guarding against the wind, and used the effort to gain the upper hand going into the second.
“Typically we play better into the wind, but it was a defensive (mindset in the first half), to hopefully get the advantage in the second half.”
The Wildcats grabbed the first goal of the game with 21:35 left in the contest after Kylie Watson pushed the ball through the net from close range to give Hayden a 1-0 edge.
Rose Hill had a chance to knot the game back up at the 15 minute mark after Kalyn Pfaff broke away from the pack with just Pimentel in front of her. Pfaff's shot went straight at the goalie and Rose Hill's chance was lost.
Hayden found the back of the net just 45 seconds later after Randi Watson slipped past the defense. The junior hoisted up a shot from 20 yards out and placed it perfectly over the outstretched hands of Rose Hill goalie MaKenzie Smith.
“That made it a little bit tougher for them, especially going into the wind,” Kruetzer said of gaining a two-goal advantage and allowing the team to sub in some fresher legs. “(Rose Hill) was starting to get tired and that made it a little bit easier for us.”
Margaret Dunshee provided the final dagger, tacking on a goal with 12 minutes left, deflating any hopes Rose Hill had of making a late comeback.
Hayden (12-7-0) will return to Rose Hill on Friday to take on Tonganoxie (10-8-1) in the state semifinals.
The program has been in the final four each of the last three seasons, finishing fourth, third and second respectively. Kruetzer isn’t looking ahead to the possibility of a state championship just yet. There’s still work to be done.
“Win the Friday night game,” Kruetzer said. (We have to) work really hard to do the things that we know to do and not worry so much about the other team and just keep focused.”
Wichita Trinity (15-4-0) will take on defending state champion St. James Academy (7-11-1) in the other semifinal.
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