The Thomas More Prep-Marian girls’ futbol team won a regional championship soccer game against Wichita Collegiate on Thursday at Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex by a football score.
Senior Megan Koenigsman ended the contest with a goal in the late stages of the second half, giving the Monarchs a 13-3 win and their third regional title in four years.
The midfielder’s lone goal came just after she missed a much easier opportunity. Koenigsman fielded some grief from teammates, specifically junior forward Kayla Vitztum, for the squandering a look at an open net.
“Megan always yells at me whenever I miss a one-on-one,” Vitztum said wryly after the game.
Vitztum wasn’t the only one to get in on the action. One voice from the crowd reminded the senior she was a midfielder for a reason before the TMP fans started chanting her name in unison.
Koenigsman was relieved to see her strike from outside the box drop into the net minutes later. There’s no telling when she would’ve heard the end of it had she not scored.
“That felt good. I know I always yell at them when they miss their chip shots,” the senior said.
“I choked. I told them ‘You guys get to yell at me for that one, because that one was awful.’ I just wanted one. Senior year, regional championship, I just wanted one, and I finally got it, so that felt good.”
The Monarchs were able to be in a joking manner after the hosts displayed a clinical attack throughout.
Koenigsman and her junior sister, Aubrey, displayed vision, controlling the distribution from the midfield while Vitztum and junior Ashley Ostrander used unmatched speed to get on the end of long passes.
“It’s really nice,” Koenigsman said. “I know if I chip the ball over them, Kayla is going to beat (them) to it. If I send the ball through, I know Ashley is going to come across and get it. They all work hard all the time.”
The appreciation was reciprocated from the junior forward who did most of the scoring, finishing with six goals.
“They do a really good job,” Vitztum said, this time sincerely. “If they weren’t there, I don’t know what we would do honestly.”
The group of attackers has been playing together since roughly the first grade. As much showed on Thursday.
“We’ve been playing together probably since the first grade,” Aubrey Koenigsman said. “It’s nice that we’ve been playing together for so long because we know where each other are on the field. It just kinda helps us connect.”
After junior Peyton Brown nearly scored in the opening moments of the game, Ostrander opened the scoring with a shot off the crossbar that bounced just beyond the line. A ruling from the assistant referee was needed to confirm the score.
Aubrey Koenigsman scored the Monarchs in a reversal of usual roles. Vitztum supplied a pass to the Monarch midfielder near the top of the box, and the midfielder touched it onto her left foot before beating the Collegiate keeper.
Ostrander added her second goal on a one-touch finish off a ball played by Aubrey Koenigsman midway through the first half before completing a first-half hat trick as she dribbled past the Spartan keeper and one of her defender for a clean look at an open goal.
“It’s so nice because you can just send it through a gap,” Aubrey Koenigsman said of playing with attackers like Vitztum and Ostrander. “Most of the time, they’re so fast they can outrun most backlines and get a good look on goal.”
Junior defender Halle Lang shut down Collegiate’s most dangerous attack in the first half, and an offsides call negated what would’ve been a Spartan goal late in the half.
The Monarchs took a 4-0 lead to half, and it could’ve been more lopsided.
“We had some tough breaks in the first half that could’ve been easier, but we’re not going to complain,” TMP coach Darryl Wellbrock said.
Vitztum might have heard some chirps from the elder Koenigsman, as she went into the half without a goal despite some quality looks.
“I just wanted to go out there and try to score or set someone up because I was kinda having an off day,” the junior forward said.
The junior’s first look at goal in the second half bounced off the crossbar. From that point forward, however, the junior was locked in on goal.
After Aubrey Koenigsman headed home a free kick taken by her sister, Vitztum broke through for the first time to give TMP a 6-0 lead.
Moments later, she had a hat trick, and TMP lead 8-0.
“(Kayla) made up for it in the second half,” Wellbrock said of the missed opportunities in the first 40 minutes.
Just after Deonna Wellbrock was pulled from goal with the lead in hand, Collegiate senior Greer Cody scored the Spartans’ first goal.
It was answered by Vitztum’s fourth goal.
Following Collegiate’s second score, this one by Madison Reed, Vitztum laid a pass off for Wellbrock, who scored just after taking the pitch as a field player.
Alexa White beat TMP freshman keeper Kallyn DeWitt with a shot from distance to pull the Spartans within seven at 10-3.
Vitztum added her fifth and six goals in quick succession before Megan Koenigsman put the Monarchs up 10.
It wasn’t what the Monarchs were expecting coming into the regional final.
“I didn’t know what to expect out of the other team,” the TMP coach said.
“I think we all just did not want this to be our last game, so we came out with all we had. It worked for us,” Aubrey Koenigsman added.
TMP will continue its season in the state quarterfinals.
It’s safe to say the Monarchs are feeling good after Thursday’s win.
“At the beginning of the season, a lot of people did not expect us to do this good. I was probably even one of them, but this team really worked hard,” Megan Koenigsman said. “We pulled it together, and we’re doing really well right now.”
A big reason for that is the Monarchs’ balanced attack led by two cerebral midfielders with a pair of speedy and skilled goal-scorers.
“It’s very good (to have that speed),” Darryl Wellbrock said. “And then we’ve got the endurance in the middle with the two Koenigsman sisters. It’s unbelievable how well they play the midfield.”
The Monarchs likely will take on the winner of today’s McPherson-Hays High game for a spot in the state semifinals.