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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.

November 5, 2021


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.


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