TOPEKA — The way things started for Thomas More Prep-Marian in Tuesday's Class 4-1A regional soccer final, it looked like the Monarchs were headed back to the state semifinals.
Senior Kayla Vitztum looked fully recovered from the sprained ankle which knocked her out of last week's win over Rose Hill, getting two breakaway opportunities in the game's first 10 minutes, the second of which she cashed in for a quick Monarch goal.
From there, however, very little went TMP's way. Hayden's smothering defense and ball-control offense kept Vitztum in check and the Wildcats converted on two long shots on goal in the first half, taking a 2-1 victory.
TMP-Marian ended the season 13-5-1 and a win shy of returning to the semifinals after taking second a year ago.
"It's always tough when one more win maybe gets us back to where we were last year," Monarch coach Darryl Wellbrock said. "It's a great group of seniors and I'll definitely miss them."
Vitztum just missed on a golden chance less than two minutes into the game, but didn't a second time. A well-placed pass over the Hayden defense from Aubrey Koenigsman resulted in a goal at the 30:24 mark, putting TMP up 1-0.
Already a 3-1 winner over Hayden earlier this year, it was the perfect start. But Wellbrock also knew Hayden would be prepared in the rematch.
"(Hayden coach Klaus Kreutzer) is a smart coach and he learned from the mistakes they made last time," Wellbrock said. "He learned from our strengths and covered them up pretty well. And from our weaknesses, too. The two shots they made were well-placed shots and hard for any keeper to make a play on. When you let someone sit out there and take their time, they found their right spot."
Kreutzer had told his team to take chances on shots that might seem "goofy" or they wouldn't normally take. That meant some longer-range attempts and Sarah Keck converted for the Wildcats on a shot from well outside the right corner of the box, crossing to the left back net, just over the out-stretched arms of Monarch keeper Allison Applequist with 24:55 left in the first half.
Six minutes later, Sarah Comstock delivered the game-winner from Hayden, again on a shot that crept just over the top of Applequist's reach.
"They pack it in there in the back so well it's really difficult to do anything one on one," Kreutzer said. "We had to take a shot whenever we got an opportunity."
TMP only had a few good looks the rest of the way, but never came close to truly threatening as Hayden avenged the early-season defeat in Kansas City.
HAYDEN 2, TMP-MARIAN 1
TMP-Marian 1 0 — 1
Hayden 2 0 — 2
TMP-Marian — Goal: Vitztum. Assist: Koenigsman.
Hayden — Goals: Keck, Comstock. Assist: Karolevitz.