Monarch soccer dominates regional opener

By Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News
Monarch soccer player Izzy Speno attempts a corner kick during TMP's 6-0 win over Winfield in Monday's regional opener at FHSU Soccer Stadium.
TMP's Allison Applequist tries to gain possession of the ball on Monday against Winfield.

The Thomas More Prep-Marian girls’ soccer team was the dominant side from the very beginning in Monday’s regional against Winfield.

The Monarchs pressured the Winfield back line, pressing the attack in the West Region Regional 3 matchup of the Class 4-3-2-1A playoffs at FHSU Soccer Stadium. No. 6 seed TMP (10-7) won 6-0 to advance to Thursday’s 5 p.m. final at No. 3 Buhler (13-4).

Winfield (4-13) rarely ventured beyond the halfway line in the first half. TMP took 24 shots in the first 40 minutes, 12 on goal, and had 11 corner kicks. The visitors did not have a shot or take a corner.

“That’s kind of what I wanted — possession,” TMP coach Shawn Lawson said. “We’ve got some ball skill, people who can hang on to the ball, finishing, shooting.

“It’s good to possess the ball,” he added. “I like the corners. I want that to be strong — finishing.”

The Monarchs opened the scoring in the 16th minute on a goal by junior Megan Hamel. TMP had a chance to extend the lead in the 26th minute but junior Izzy Speno was denied on a penalty kick. The Monarchs then scored twice in the final minutes of the first half, with senior Abby Rueschhoff scoring in the 37th and junior Ella Brummer in the 38th for a 3-0 lead.

In the second half, freshman Sydney Meier found the back of the net in the 49th minute and Speno scored in the 55th to make it 5-0. Winfield had an own goal in the 65th after a TMP shot hit the crossbar.

Senior goalkeeper Allison Applequist preserved the clean sheet in the 51st minute when she came off her line to deny Winfield freshman forward Skylar Flower, who got past the TMP backline. Applequist made a sliding tackle at the top of the box to prevent the scoring opportunity.

“She will come off her line,” Lawson said. “She’s not afraid to handle the ball outside the box.”

Freshman keeper Mia Lang substituted in for Applequist in the 62nd minute as Lawson rotated in younger players during the second half.

TMP finished with 39 shots, 20 on goal. Winfield managed one shot, which was wide of the goal. The Monarchs took 18 corners compared to two for the Vikings.

“Four-hour bus ride really didn’t treat us that well,” Winfield coach Kyle Larsen said. “We were kind of sluggish to start with, took a little bit to get going.”

For the Monarchs, it’s on to Buhler.

“They know what’s at stake, and they go out and play hard in the big games,” Lawson said. “I know it’s going to be difficult.”