Ellison Gracik

Senior Ryan Masterson holds up the third-place trophy after the Huskies defeated Wichita North in the 6A state consolation game, Nov. 6.

Boys soccer playoff run

November 3, 2021

Boys soccer team finishes third at 6A state tournament

The boys varsity soccer team defeated Wichita North, 3-1, in the state consolation game, Nov. 6. With the win, the Huskies placed third at the KSHSAA 6A state tournament.


Ellison Gracik

Senior Ryan Masterson holds up the third-place trophy after the Huskies defeated Wichita North in the 6A state consolation game, Nov. 6.

After a 2-1 loss against Washburn Rural in the state semifinals the night before, the Huskies faced off against Wichita North in the state consolation game, playing for the chance at third place in the state tournament. Senior Ryan Masterson said the Huskies were disappointed with their loss, but were looking to come out and take third place.

“A lot of us were disappointed, but we had the mindset that winning third place would mean a lot to us and we came out ready to play,” Masterson said.

The score was tied for most of the first half until senior Joseph Rahto scored a goal on a header off a free kick by junior Ricki Li with just over four minutes remaining in the first half. From that point on, the Huskies were in control. With 31:18 remaining in the second half, senior Andrew Mitchell found the back of the net and junior Sam McIntosh added one more with 23:47 remaining in the game to give the Huskies a 3-0 lead over Wichita North.

Having given up leads in the past two games, head coach Brian Pollack said the team made some changes to ensure it would not happen again.

“We’ve been so banged up, so we decided to change things formationally so we can rest our legs and control the lead which is something we haven’t done in the past,” Pollack said. “It turned out to be the best thing possible and we came out firing in the second half.”

Being up by three goals, Mitchell said it was also great to see some players able to get in the game who typically don’t play.

“It gave a chance for other seniors and those who typically don’t play to get in and be able to play in a state game which was awesome to see,” Mitchell said.

Wichita North scored a goal with 31 seconds remaining in the game, but it wasn’t enough as the Huskies were able to win the state consolation game, 3-1, clinching third place at the KSHSAA 6A state tournament.

Masterson it was a well-earned victory and a satisfying way to end the season.

“It’s honestly rewarding because we worked so hard throughout the season and we were never really rewarded through most of it. We came out today and were able to get what we wanted,” Masterson said.

Finishing the regular season with a 5-10-1 record and entering playoffs as the thirteen seed, Mitchell said the team surpassed his expectations by making it as far as they did in the playoffs.

“I thought we had a chance to go far coming into the playoffs, but I never expected us to get third in the state. We had confidence and we built on wins, won some big overtime games, and were able to finish it off with another good game tonight,” Mitchell said.

Ending his high school soccer career on a win was very validating, Mitchell said.

“We have a medal around our neck and a trophy to put in the trophy case. It’s exciting and especially with a losing record, people overlooked us, but we knew we had the talent to do it and we did it,” Mitchell said.


Huskies fall to Washburn Rural in state semifinals, 2-1

The boys soccer team was unable to hold on to their early lead as they were defeated by the Washburn Rural Junior Blues, 2-1, in the state semifinal game, Nov. 5.


Hiba Issawi

The boys varsity soccer team stands in a huddle after losing to Washburn Rural in the state semifinals, Nov. 5.

Facing off against an undefeated Washburn Rural team would be no easy task, senior Yousif Radhi said, but with the Huskies’ recent momentum, anything seemed possible.

“With the momentum we were building up, we didn’t see them as someone we couldn’t take down. We knew they were going to be really good because they were undefeated and that it was going to be a tough game, but we still thought we could come out and compete,” Radhi said.

Head coach Brian Pollack agreed with Radhi, saying they expected the Junior Blues to be a good team with a lot of pride and playoff experience.

“We were expecting a team with a whole lot of pride because they’re undefeated. I know they go to state almost every year, so we knew we were going against a team with a lot of experience as well,” Pollack said.

Similar to the state quarterfinal game, the Huskies started off the scoring. Senior Andrew Mitchell chipped the ball over the goalkeeper to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead with 33:42 remaining in the first half.

“I feel like my goal definitely put us in the right mindset,” Mitchell said. “At the same time, we had the lead last game and coughed it back up, so were just trying to build off the lead and keep going,” Mitchell said.

Northwest maintained the 1-0 over Washburn Rural until there were 20 minutes remaining in the second half, when the Junior Blues tied the game with a goal of their own. Radhi said the lead had some positive and negative effects for the Huskies.

“I think initially it gave us a lot of confidence in thinking we were in this game, we were ahead of them right now and all we needed to do was keep the lead. I think as we went on we relied on that a little too much,” Radhi said.

After falling behind, 2-1, after another Junior Blues goal, Mitchell said the team reminded each other of what happened in the past playoff games.

“We were telling each other, ‘we’ve been here before’. I don’t know exactly how many comeback and overtime wins we’ve had this season, but it’s been a lot. We’ve been down, we’ve been here and we knew we just needed to keep a positive attitude,” Mitchell said.

The Huskies also adjusted their formation to help create more attacking opportunities, Pollack said. 

“We switched to a three-back to put more people up top to create more opportunities and flood numbers forward. We knew we could outposses them technically, so we were just trying to connect and get into dangerous spaces,” Pollack said.

Mitchell said he noticed a major difference between the way the team played in the first and second half.

“They just wanted it more. We were slow to step to the ball and slow to press. It’s tough to win soccer games if you don’t play two consistent halves,” Mitchell said.

Washburn Rural held on to their 2-1 lead forcing a Huskies loss in the state semifinals. Pollack said his emotions after the game were a mixture of frustration and sadness. 

“It’s frustrating on a lot of levels. When you’re up at halftime and it’s one half of soccer that gets the better of you it’s frustrating. When you go into overtime in three straight games then go up against a physical team, legs were probably getting tired. I’m sad for the seniors because of all the work they put in and for everybody and all the effort they put in this postseason to come up just short,” Pollack said.

The Huskies will play Wichita North in the consolation game, Saturday, Nov. 6 at 2:00 p.m., with the chance of placing third at state. Radhi said it’s disappointing to not be playing in the championship, but said they will still give it their all.

“It’s pretty devastating because this team has worked so hard. Every single one of these guys deserved to be in the championship game tomorrow, but it is what it is and we’ll come out tomorrow and play hard in the third and fourth place game,” Radhi said.

Mitchell shared the frustration with Pollack and Radhi, but said he is proud of how far the team came. 

“Nobody expected us to be here. I’m honestly blessed and happy that we got the opportunity to make it to the state semifinals. We beat three great teams, a 5-seed, a 4-seed, and a 2-seed. We’ve been riding the high, but this was definitely humbling. We just need to come out tomorrow and put it away and finish third,” Mitchell said.


Huskies secure another wild overtime win, defeat Ravens, 4-3

The boys varsity soccer team defeated the Olathe Northwest Ravens, 4-3, in the 6A state quarterfinals, Nov. 2. Junior Parker Million scored the game-winning goal with 2:03 left in the first overtime.

Winning back-to-back games in overtime on the way to a regional championship instilled a mindset in the Huskies to keep fighting and never give up, head coach Brian Pollack said.

“I think this is just a group that believes in each other and with two straight games coming from behind and going into overtime, they know that regardless of what happens, they are ready to battle,” Pollack said.

Unlike the past two games, the Huskies got off to an early lead. Goals by juniors Ricki Li and Sam McIntosh gave the Huskies a 2-0 lead less than ten minutes into the game.

Senior Andrew Mitchell said the two-goal advantage had both negative and positive impacts on the team. 

“[The lead] was both good and bad. It was good to take a 2-0 lead, but anyone who watches soccer knows 2-0 is not a lead you want to have. It gave us comfort which isn’t great for the type of soccer we play,” Mitchell said.

The comfort that Mitchell mentioned began to ease away as Olathe Northwest scored one goal before halftime and added another off a penalty kick to tie the game at 2-2 with 29:55 remaining in the second half. 

Pollack said the lead early in the game gave the Huskies a false sense of security. 

“After those two goals honestly we didn’t really play our best soccer. We got down again and it was like, ‘oh ok we’ve got to start playing again.’ This game certainly had its ups and downs. The first 20 minutes were all us and then we kind of had to figure out how to crawl back in it,” Pollack said. 

The Ravens added another goal with 16:15 remaining in the second half to take control of the lead, 3-2. 

After falling behind, the Huskies switched up their formation, only playing three defenders in hopes to create more goal-scoring opportunities, junior Parker Million said.

“We switched formations a little bit to focus on our attack and get more players up the field to give us a better chance to score,” Million said.

As the clock began to dwindle down, the Ravens began to play more conservatively, bringing back more defenders. However, with less than four minutes remaining in the second half, Mitchell received a pass with a defender on his back, took a touch, cut the ball inside and delivered a shot that curved into the top-right corner of the goal to tie the game, 3-3. 

Pollack said he was nervous at first when Mitchell made the decision to shoot the ball, but ultimately recognized it was the right choice. 

“We’ve been working all season and especially the last couple weeks about taking the ball deep and when he cut it in I thought, ‘ugh he’s cutting it in,’ and then he just fired a bullet. It was an absolute strike,” Pollack said.

Million said it was a crazy moment and he was in awe of Mitchell’s goal.

“It was nuts. I was in shock and I didn’t really see it coming,” Million said.

The game remained tied at three goals apiece through the end of regulation and went into overtime.

Despite tying the game with his goal, Mitchell said he knew it wasn’t enough for the Huskies to win, but he was confident as the game went into overtime.

“I was just telling myself, ‘we need one more’ because you can’t win on a tie,” Mitchell said. “We knew once we got to overtime we had it in the bag and In overtime we just dominated. They didn’t touch the ball hardly,” Mitchell said.

In overtime, the Huskies controlled possession and kept the ball on the Ravens’ half of the field for a majority of the time. With 2:03 remaining in overtime, junior Parker Million dribbled down the right sideline before firing a shot past the goalkeeper’s outstretched hands into the top-left corner to score the game-winning goal. 

“It felt amazing. To send us to the state semifinal with that goal is a great feeling,” Million said.

Pollack said he was impressed with the Huskies play in overtime and he knew they were bound to score one more goal.

“It was amazing. We were firing on all cylinders in overtime and I just felt like something was coming. As soon as he hit it I realized it was dangerous and it found the back of the net,” Pollack said.

With the win, the Huskies advanced to the 6A state semifinal game where they will take on an undefeated Washburn Rural team out of Topeka. Mitchell said the run the Huskies have made this season is like no other.

“Oh man, it’s crazy. Starting as a 13 seed and having a 5-10-1 record to bouncing back and being in the state semifinal is huge. We had been building for the playoffs all season and we peaked at the right time,” Mitchell said.


Huskies defeat Lancers, 2-1, in overtime to win regional championship

The boys varsity soccer team defeated the Shawnee Mission East Lancers in the regional championship, 2-1, Oct. 28. Senior Joseph Rahto scored the game-winning goal for the Huskies in overtime.

Coming off a 3-2 win over Olathe South in triple overtime two nights before, senior Yousif Radhi said the team had confidence they could compete with Shawnee Mission East, despite being the lower seed for the second straight game.

“[The win over Olathe South] really showed us that in the playoffs all the teams are really equal and we can compete with any team we come out against and that we could come out with a win today,” Radhi said.

Senior Joseph Rahto agreed with Radhi, adding that the team gained energy and intensity after the win over Olathe South.

“I think we were more pumped up and more energized. We were the underdog going into that game and the underdog going into this game, so we had the momentum going and it helped us out a lot,” Rahto said.

With 27:56 remaining in the first half, the Lancers scored a goal to take a 1-0 lead, which would remain the score through the end of the first half. 

Head coach Brian Pollack said he told the team at halftime that they needed to be more aggressive in the second half.

“I told them at halftime, that we’ve got to get more aggressive going forward because we’re only going to get so many chances against good teams. I think it put a little more purpose behind us on how aggressively we attacked,” Pollack said.

Throughout the entire game, the temperature was in the 40s and rain was pouring down. Radhi said the weather conditions caused some difficulties for the Huskies.

“I think [the weather] had a huge impact on the game. We had to set our minds straight and get prepared in warmups for the cold and wetness. Also, the ball slid a lot faster and sped up the pace of the game,” Radhi said.

The Huskies trailed the Lancers for a majority of the second half, until senior Ryan Masterson found the back of the net after a deflection in the box by the Lancers with 14:21 remaining in the second half. Radhi said Masterson’s goal gave the team the confidence and motivation to keep fighting.

“Ryan’s goal showed us that we weren’t out of this game, not even for a little. It showed us that we had a big chance going through and we were building on the momentum and needed to capitalize on it,” Radhi said.

At the end of regulation, the score remained tied, 1-1, and the game went into overtime. However, the Huskies would need just over two minutes of the overtime. Junior Gustavo Silva delivered a pass to Rahto at the top of the box, who shot to the bottom left corner, scoring the game-winning goal.

Rahto, who scored the game-tying goal against Olathe South on Tuesday, said it was a great feeling to help the team out again in a crucial moment.

“It was really exciting,” Rahto said. “It was my second goal in two games and it felt great to score in a big moment again.”

With the win, the Huskies became regional champions for the first time since 2015. Radhi said it was a great feeling to experience, and something he had been waiting for since he started playing on the varsity team.

“It feels great. All of my years on varsity we haven’t won anything like this,” Radhi said. “Now, we’re onto state and we just need to keep the momentum going.”

No. 13 Huskies upset No. 4 Falcons, 3-2, in 3OT to advance to regional championship

The boys varsity soccer team defeated Olathe South, 3-2, in the regional semifinals, Oct. 26. Junior Sam McIntosh scored the game-winning goal for the Huskies in the third overtime.

After finishing the regular season with a 5-10-1 record, the Huskies came into the playoffs as the 13 seed in the 6A East region. Playing against the fourth-seeded Olathe South Falcons, senior Joseph Rahto said the team was aware of their underdog status but used it as motivation.

“I think we came in wanting to win more because we were the underdogs. We wanted to make a statement by coming out strong and getting a win,” Rahto said.

Junior Sam McIntosh agreed with Rahto and added that he believed the team wouldn’t have played as well if they were favored to win.

“I think being the lower seed helped us because if we came in as a higher seed we would’ve thought this was an easier game than it was and wouldn’t have played as well,” McIntosh said.

The Falcons got off to a quick start, scoring a goal just over five minutes into the game. The score would remain the same until junior Ricki Li found the back of the net off a free kick, tying the game 1-1. McIntosh said Li’s goal gave the Huskies motivation as they went into the second half.

“I think Ricki’s goal really helped us because I think without it we wouldn’t have had the energy and confidence that we did in the second half,” McIntosh said.

During the halftime speech, Rahto said Pollack told the team if they move the ball around and not force anything they will score more goals. 

“[Coach Pollack] told us to just focus on our own game, do what we do, pass the ball around and not force anything and the goals would eventually come,” Rahto said. 

The Huskies found themselves trailing once again after Olathe South scored off a free kick with 16:59 remaining in the second half. However, the Huskies would respond quickly as with 15:18 remaining in the second half, sophomore Holden Jayram delivered a ball to the front post on a corner kick to senior Joseph Rahto who headered it in to tie the game at two goals apiece. 

The goal was Rahto’s first of the season and he said he felt like it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It felt great. It was my first goal in a varsity game and for it to come in the playoffs and tie the game makes it even better,” Rahto said.

The score remained tied, 2-2, for the remainder of the second half and the Huskies and Falcons entered overtime. Head coach Brian Pollack said despite the team not playing as well as they would have liked in the first half, they did a good job bouncing back in the second half.

“We didn’t play a good first half honestly. We talked about playing our game of one or two touches and when we did that in the second half and overtime it worked well,” Pollack said.

Northwest and South remained deadlocked at 2-2 throughout the first and second overtimes. Three minutes into the third overtime, senior Ryan Masterson found McIntosh on a long through ball over the top of multiple Falcons’ defenders. McIntosh took a couple dribbles before delivering a strike to the far post, scoring the game-winning goal for the Huskies.

After scoring the goal, McIntosh said he initially didn’t know what to do, but he ran over and celebrated with the fans after sending the Huskies to the regional championship.

“Honestly, after I scored, I was a little surprised and didn’t know what to do, but I finally ran over to the student section and celebrated with them which was fun,” McIntosh said. 

Pollack said McIntosh was very deserving of the goal and it was a great way to end the game.

“It’s only fitting because [McIntosh] does all the little things and provides for everyone else so every once in a while he needs to eat himself, and it was just a great way to end it,” Pollack said.

With the win, the Huskies advance to the regional championship where they will take on Shawnee Mission East on Thursday, Oct. 28 at 6:00 at the Shawnee Mission Activity Complex.

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