Maize South finishes as 5A runner-up to end best year in school history

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TOPEKA, Kan. - If you just took a look at the final scoreboard, you might expect a dejected team on Maize South's sideline.

Playing for a state championship in boys soccer for the first time in school history, the Mavericks were playing from behind from what felt like the opening kickoff. Blue Valley Southwest scored twice in under two minutes to take a 2-0 lead before 10 minutes had ran off the clock.

The Timberwolves would add four more goals, winning a second straight state title by a 6-0 final score. But for this Maverick team, it goes beyond the final score.

"I'm glad I'm leaving this as my go out," said senior Spencer Steinhoff. "Couldn't be happier."

"Coming into the year, the goal was make it to state, and we made it here," said Andrew Bliss, a senior center back.

Bliss is a two sport athlete for the Mavericks, and chose to stay with the football team for Friday night's playoff game against Maize.

"It was tough. I lost some sleep over it for sure," said Bliss. "But I'm glad I chose what I did because the outcome turned out good for us."

That outcome, a win in penalty kicks over St. James Academy Friday night got the Mavericks to this point. The game against the Thunder was scoreless heading to PKs, going 110 minutes scoreless before the 5-4 advantage in Maize South's favor.

"Their perserverance, their character, the class they they showed throughout this state tournament has been phenomenal," said head coach Rey Ramirez.

About those records, the Mavericks end the year with a 17-4 record, the most wins in school history. The win on Friday over St. James was in their first trip to the soccer Final Four in school history. The runner-up plaque they received, that will be the first of its kind to hit the trophy shelf at Maize South High School.

But as Ramirez states, it's goes well beyond the accomplishments on the field.

"Some of the accomplishments and achievements that they've had are very recognizable, their record breaking season and games won--but that's only a result of much deeper and much more important characteristics."

And the Mavs will be back. Two of their top goal scorers are just sophomores in Raul Gerhardus and Landon Eskridge, the former who set a another school record--this for scoring--despite missing time for injury.

"Next year I think we're a good team to beat, team to mess with," said Steinhoff.

"This just makes us hungry," added Ramirez. "We're hoping this is the start of something bigger. That this is the start of something special,"