Continuing a recent trend, the Thomas More Prep-Marian boys soccer team was forced to play from behind in Monday’s regional opener against Rose Hill.
That’s a habit coach Shea Koerner would love to see his team break, but Koerner also knows the Monarchs are capable of turning things around in a hurry.
“Sometimes it takes a goal for us to wake up,” Koerner said. “I wish it was us scoring a goal, but, unfortunately, a lot of times it’s the other team scoring a goal and we realize, ‘Oh yeah, we’re playing soccer.’ ”
TMP offset the slow start with a strong second half, buckling down to keep its season alive with a 4-3 win at Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex.
The Monarchs (7-7) broke a 3-3 tie early in the second half on a goal from senior Ethan Lang and blanked the Rockets after halftime. TMP will play at Coffeyville at 6 p.m. in Thursday’s Class 4-3-2-1A regional final.
Rose Hill (7-10) struck first just a few minutes into the game on a goal from Drew Leck, but TMP answered in the 11th minute on a free-kick goal from Ethan Brummer.
TMP’s Tanner Diehl gave the Monarchs the lead after scoring off a corner kick from Brummer, but the Rockets answered with back-to-back scores, taking a 3-2 lead on Lathe Cobb's deep free kick. However, the Monarchs knotted it up again late in the half on Zach Braun’s goal.
“We were focused coming into it, we just weren’t really amped to the level we needed to be,” Lang said. “That was a wake-up call after the first goal, but I’m glad we respondes whole heartedly.”
Taking advantage of another corner-kick opportunity, Lang’s goal with 33:18 left in the match proved to be the difference as TMP limited Rose Hill’s scoring chances in the second half.
“I feel like we came out kind of soft in the beginning, not really communicating with each other, and that was one thing we had to pick up in the second half,” Lang said. “Our defense and our offense were communicating back and forth in the second half and it really helped our offense."
“In the second half, once we got a chance to talk to them, it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I remember what I’m supposed to be doing, I remember I’m supposed to be talking.’ And then we shut it down,” he said.
Koerner said it was crucial that the Monarchs were able to take advantage of a couple corner kicks.
“We make our money on set pieces,” he said. “We’ve constantly talked about it and it really came into fruition today, because without those (goals off corners), it would have been a much different game.”
Coffeyville enters Thursday’s match with a 14-2-1 record but TMP has been battle tested against bigger schools such as Garden City, Dodge City, Great Bend and Hays High.
“I think it’s a great benefit to play all the 5A, 6A schools we play,” Lang said. “It’s a great benefit for us to have to play those hard teams, even if it’s a couple more losses in the regular season. In the postseason, it’s really going to help us out.”
Koerner is hoping the long bus ride won’t have any after-effects on the Monarchs.
“A lot of it is going to be getting off the bus and getting ready after about five hours,” Koerner said. “It’s going to be a challenge and we hope over the next couple days we can get them ready for that.”