By RICK PETERSON
Now in his 21st season as a high school soccer coach, Hayden's Klaus Kreutzer has seen all kinds of weather conditions.
But on the misery scale, Kreutzer couldn't remember many days that rivaled Thursday's conditions at the Sunflower Soccer Complex for the Class 4A-1A regional final between the Wildcats and Independence.
Moar of the game was played in a driving rain, with a 14-mile-per-hour wind and the temperature hovering around the 50-degree mark.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, they made the most of the awful conditions, advancing to next Tuesday's state quarterfinals with a 4-0 win over the Bulldogs.
"I'd say today was in the top two,'' Kreutzer said when asked to rate the worst conditions his teams have played in. "We gave (Independence) the opportunity to not play, but they're on fall break and everybody was going someplace so they wanted to just play and get it done with.''
Hayden scored all four of its goals in the first half to put the game away and with the win safely tucked away, Kreutzer said it was probably good to get the game in the books.
"Now we'll have a few days rest and some time to recup,'' Kreutzer said.
Pushed to penalty kicks in Monday's 1-0 regional win over Cair Paravel Latin, Hayden took care of business early against Independence.
"That was pretty important and that's why I took the wind, simply for a confidence factor and just feeling a little bit better'' Kreutzer said. "It was big for us and you could tell it lifted everybody up.''
Junior Chris Hayes scored the only goal the 13-5-0 Wildcats would need early in the game and junior Jake Muller followed with a second goal shortly thereafter.
Later in the half Hayes added a second goal before junior Nick Padilla ended Hayden's scoring.
"It was very important to boost our confidence and relieve the pressure off our defense,'' Hayes said of Hayden's quick start.
Senior goalkeeper Gabe Rankey picked up the shutout in goal, coming up with a couple of key second-half saves.
"We always trust Gabe back in the net because he's such a good goalie and we have faith in him,'' Hayes said. "He's the backbone of our team.''
And like Kreutzer, Hayes was happy to put Thursday's game behind him.
"I told (coach) that this was one of the most miserable games I've that I've played in my life, but hey, it was fun so that's all I can ask for,'' Hayes said.
The state quarterfinal pairings will be determined after the conclusion of all the regional finals.
HAYDEN 4, INDEPENDENCE 0
Independence (11-5-2) 0 0 -- 0
Hayden (13-5-0) 4 0 -- 4
Hayden -- Goals: Chris Hayes 2, Jake Muller, Nick Padilla. Shutout: Gabe Rankey.