By RICK PETERSON
Just two games into the 2021 season, there's still some things that Washburn Rural soccer coach Brian Hensyel wants to see his team clean up moving forward.
But Hensyel also knows that if the Junior Blues keep finding the back of the net the way they have in back-to-back five-goal games, Rural is going to be hard to beat.
After opening the season with a 5-0 shutout over Kapaun Mt. Carmel last Friday, Washburn Rural followed that up with a 5-1 win over city rival Shawnee Heights Tuesday night at McElroy Field.
"The offense is clicking,'' Hensyel said. "We scored a bunch of goals the first half the other night and scored the second half tonight. Ten goals in two games obviously is pretty good.
"We have some offensive weapons but Shawnee Heights played hard and they made it really tough for us. We had to earn some goals and eventually kind of broke free, but we let them back in the game a little bit just by doing silly stuff. It's August, it's early in the season and we've got to clean some of those things up, simple things.''
Shawnee Heights, which was making its season debut, held Rural to just one first-half goal, but the Junior Blues scored four times in the second half to blow the game open.
Devon Rutschmann, a sophomore transfer from Topeka West, scored a pair of goals for Washburn Rural, which also got goals from senior Porter Schafersman, sophomore Griffin Heinen and junior Easton Bradstreet.
Senior Kaden Hill was credited with a pair of assists for the Junior Blues while senior Joe Morse, junior Ty Stead and senior Mason Grogan also contributed assists.
Heights withstood numerous Rural scoring threats in the first half before Rutschmann finally got the Junior Blues on the scoreboard with just 1:38 left before halftime.
Washburn Rural took an insurmountable 3-0 lead on goals from Schafersman (26:25) and Heinen (22:25) early in the second half before Shawnee Heights got back in the game on a goal from senior Jake Loy with 19:10 remaining.
The T-Birds got no closer, however, with Rutschmann and Bradstreet adding goals down the stretch.
Despite the loss Heights coach Nic Simons saw some positives that his team can build on.
"We definitely weathered a lot of the storm the first half, but didn't look particularly well in possession,'' Simons said. "We switched some things up second half and I thought we came out and played pretty well for the first 20, 25 minutes and then I think a combination of guys cramping and some inexperience at times on some different things got us.
"I thought we did some good things. We had some opportunities that we left off the board in the second half and had we converted those, it's a whole different game. As I told the kids, the margin of error against a team like Rural is paper thin and we found out. It's a great lesson for us to learn this year and it's long season.''
WASHBURN RURAL 5, SHAWNEE HEIGHTS 1
Shawnee Heights (0-1) 0 1 -- 1
Washburn Rural (2-0) 1 4 -- 5
Shawnee Heights -- Goal: Jake Loy. Assist: Garrison Johnson.
Washburn Rural -- Goals: Devon Rutschmann 2, Porter Schafersman, Griffin Heinen, Easton Bradstreet. Assists: Kaden Hill 2, Joe Morse, Ty Stead, Mason Grogan.