The opportunity to play at the FHSU Soccer Stadium in front of packed stands provided the Thomas More Prep-Marian/Ellis boys soccer team with a top-notch atmosphere for Tuesday’s Class 4-1A state quarterfinal.
And the Monarchs made sure it didn't go to waste.
Senior Logan Shaw scored the lone goal early in the second half and the Monarchs held on to blank Topeka-Hayden 1-0, advancing to the state semifinals for the first time in program history.
“That was awesome. We’ve never had a crowd that big before, I don’t think,” Shaw said. “It was just a great feeling, putting that goal in and having all those people cheering the whole game. It really helped out. I really enjoyed it.”
TMP-Marian coach Shea Koerner agreed that the Monarchs fed off the crowd, crediting TMP-Marian and Ellis High School for getting the students to turn out in full force.
“I told the boys at halftime, if I was a student and I looked at the weather report and it was 50 degrees outside with 20 mile-an-hour wind, I’m not coming out,’” Koerner said. “James Harris, the head of the student council at TMP, just packed the stands for us tonight. It was beautiful.”
The Monarchs (9-7) will play Bishop Miege (12-5-2) in the semifinals at 7 p.m. on Friday at Piper High School in Kansas City, Kansas.
TMP and Hayden played to a stalemate in the first half, but TMP came out firing early in the second half.
“I thought our first half was great, we just didn’t finish,” Koerner said. “In the second half, they came out with a fire. A lot of that is because of the captains. Logan’s been fantastic, our leading scorer all year, and then Ethan (Lang) and Sheldon (Weber) are the backbones of this team, just keeping everyone going. They got them going at halftime, saying we needed this.”
The Monarchs broke through with Shaw’s goal about two and a half minutes into the second half.
“It looked like [Lang] just flicked one over the middle and I just got a foot on it,” Shaw said.
It was the second-straight shutout for the Monarchs after they beat Coffeyville 3-0 in the regional final. Koerner said the Monarchs used a 3-1 loss to Hays High in the regular-season finale as a learning tool for their play defensively moving forward.
“We got a wake-up call against Hays High,” Koerner said. “I probably owe [Hays High coach Silas Hibbs] a dinner and Hays High some pizza or something, because the way that we got beat in that game really woke us up to what our problems have been. It’s been two shutdown games in a row against Coffeyville and Topeka-Hayden. Both are great teams.”
“I thought they were communicating well,” Shaw said of TMP’s defenders. “They were talking on all the balls in the air and they were getting heads on them. They were making sure we didn’t have any dumb mistakes, because we’ve had them before. I thought they were just doing a good job communicating."
Hayden’s best opportunities came in the second half, putting a couple shots on goal down the stretch that were saved by TMP goalkeeper Bobby Cox, who notched the shutout. TMP kept the pressure on by creating chances in the second half.
Shaw said the victory was a culmination to the steady improvement the Monarchs have shown over the last few years.
“This is a really big moment,” he said. “It feels really good, senior year, to be in that light. My freshman year we went like 2-15 or something. We’ve made a lot of improvements since freshman year and it just feels great.”