It could have been a recipe for disaster for the Thomas More Prep-Marian girls soccer team.
With the season on the line, TMP lost leading scorer Kayla Vitztum and starting midfielder Jillian Lowe to injuries in the first half and found itself tied 1-1 with Rose Hill at halftime of Monday's Class 4-1A regional opener.
"It's never good losing two of your best players, but we just knew we had to come together as a team and pick up for what we lost and play together," TMP senior Aubrey Koenigsman said.
Indeed, the Monarchs found a way to power through, scoring three goals in the second half to survive the scare and move on to the Central/South Central Regional No. 4 final with a 4-2 win over Rose Hill.
"Especially in the middle, I had girls step in and play (positions) they weren't familiar with, but they just played soccer and played with their hearts to make up for what we lost," TMP coach Darryl Wellbrock said. "I think they wanted it pretty bad because they all kind of chipped in and played good soccer."
TMP (12-4-1) will most likely play on the road against Wichita Collegiate on Thursday, barring an upset of Collegiate by Winfield in Tuesday's match.
Koenigsman and fellow senior Ashley Ostrander led the way in Vitztum's absence, combining for all three second-half goals.
"I visited with (Koenigsman and Ostrander) at halftime about how they needed to take charge," Wellbrock said. "They do that very well when they want to. You could see in this game how they can manipulate a defense and they did."
TMP's injury troubles started early in the game when Lowe left with what Wellbrock said was a deep calf bruise.
Vitztum, who scored TMP's first goal on an assist from Lowe, suffered a sprained ankle midway through the first half. She was unable to put any pressure on it and left the complex to receive treatment.
The multi-sport star also had an ankle injury earlier this season against Miege but returned for the next game.
"I don't know if she'll recover as fast as she did on the first one or not," Wellbrock said. "Last time, it took her two days. There again, it's Kayla."
Koenigsman broke the 1-1 tie four minutes and 46 seconds into the second half, firing in a shot off a breakaway that skidded off the hands of Rose Hill goalkeeper Reagan Evans and into the net.
Ostrander scored a few minutes later and then assisted on Koenigsman's second goal with about 12 minutes left.
"We've played together for years, we're friends," Koenigsman said of the chemistry between her and Ostrander. "We kind of know where each other will be and we'll talk to each other. We know what runs to make and know each other's skills."
TMP had breakaway opportunities throughout the game but Rose Hill (3-13) was able to stave off several Monarch chances behind solid play from Evans.
"Their keeper did a darn good job coming out on those girls on those fastbreaks," Wellbrock said. "It easily could have been a lot worse score, but she did a good job of keeping them in the game.
"We had plenty of chances, we just were not placing our shots well," Koenigsman said. "We knew we'd eventually get it, so we just had to keep working at it."
Koenigsman said it was a good sign that the Monarchs were able to overcome the injury adversity.
"It made us all come together and play as a team," she said. "Everybody had to step up and play to the best of their abilities."