By RICK PETERSON
A 14-2-0 regular-season record is impressive enough, but the way Shawnee Heights' boys soccer team has achieved that mark is even more impressive.
Fighting injuries, illness and the like, Heights coach Nic Simons has waited all season for his T-Birds to be at full strength, but Simons couldn't be prouder of how the team has handled each and every challenge heading into Tuesday's 6 p.m. Class 5A regional contest at the Bettis Family Sports Complex.
"We have not had all 11 starting players out on the field at the same time, not one game,'' Simons said after last Thursday's 3-1 win over Manhattan. "But everybody on the team has played minutes and everybody on the team has picked each other up and we've gotten goals from sophomores all the way up through seniors and from kids who play relatively little minutes to kids that play the whole game.''
After dropping a 5-1 decision to 15-0-0 Washburn Rural to open the season, the only other blemish on the United Kansas Conference-champion T-Birds' record is a double-overtime loss to De Soto.
"It's just been nothing but incredible,'' Simons said of Heights' success. "What a testament to these kids, they're wonderful.''
Now the key for the T-Birds, third and fourth in 5A the past two seasons, is to continue that success in postseason.
Shawnee Heights will face the winner of Monday's play-in contest between Highland Park and Kansas City-Schlagle in Tuesday's regional opener.
The Scots (5-10-1) will host the Stallions (1-13-0) in a 5 p.m. contest at Hummer Sports Park.
Other city regional matchups:
-- Topeka High (8-6-2) will host Wichita Southeast (8-7-1) in a 6A regional opener at 7 p.m. Monday at Hummer Sports Park. The Topeka High-Southeast game will follow the Highland Park-Schlagle game, also at Hummer.
-- Coming off a perfect regular season, Centennial League champion Washburn Rural will open 6A postseason at 6 p.m. Tuesday at McElroy Field. The Junior Blues will face the winner of Monday's play-in game between Wichita Northwest (5-11-0) and Campus (4-11-1).
-- Topeka West (0-15-1) will travel to Maize (3-11-2) Monday for a 6 p.m. 5A regional play-in contest, with the winner advancing to a Tuesday contest.
-- Seaman (4-11-1) will be on the road for a 6 p.m. Tuesday night regional contest at Bishop Carroll (11-4-1).
-- Hayden (11-5-0) will open postseason at home Monday for a 4 p.m. 4A-1A regional opener against Cair Paravel Latin (4-9-1).