The flashbacks to April 9 were understandable for Thomas More Prep-Marian girls’ soccer coach Darryl Wellbrock. On that day, TMP lost 1-0 to Dodge City High School in Hays, a game it dominated until the final minute of regulation, when the Red Demons scored the game’s lone goal.
Then came Thursday’s regular-season finale against Wichita North High School, another game where TMP dominated possession but continued to leave the door open for its opponent.
“I could have seen another Dodge City game here,” Wellbrock said. “That No. 20 (North sophomore forward Danisha Brown) is quick, getting behind us. But the backline did a good job of shutting her down. But all it takes is one time and that one lone goal. But we held that off.”
Unlike the game against Dodge City, the Monarchs kept the Redskins out of the net and held on for the scoreless draw at the Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex. While taking the tie is obviously better than taking the loss, TMP’s dominance on offense — North only had a couple serious scoring chances — left the Monarchs feeling on the short side of the draw.
“He (North coach Curt Wullschleger) was excited it was a tie, I think, at the end. Me? Not so much. Not with all of those opportunities,” Wellbrock said. “They packed a bunch in the box, every time. Every time they had their backs up against the wall, they got nine girls in the box. I think they were playing for a tie. They weren’t playing to win.”
Part of TMP’s problem in finishing its numerous advances was the play of North goalkeeper Aliyah Bernard. While most of the Monarchs’ shots seemed to be simple layups into the keeper’s gloves, the few that did require extra concentration didn’t phase her.
The only real mistake Bernard made all game came when a shot by TMP’s Racheal Hamel deflected off her hands and fell behind her, where it perilously flirted with the goal line, only three minutes remaining in regulation. Bernard managed to reach back just in time and keep the ball out of the net, TMP’s offensive frustrations refusing to yield.
“We just couldn’t find it today — all sorts of different combinations. We had opportunities and it wasn’t working,” Wellbrock said.
“Their keeper did a good job back there. We just couldn’t get it under her. That was the key problem. Three or four good cracks. The ones that were right to her, you aren’t going to kick to that keeper. She is going to catch everything up high.”
TMP finishes the regular season with a 10-3-1 overall record. The Monarchs now await the announcement of the Class 4-3-2-1A state regional brackets, expected out in the next day.
Even with the tie, Wellbrock believes TMP should finish as one of the top three seeds in the South Central region, allowing them to have a first-round bye and a chance to host its regional championship game.