By RICK PETERSON
Washburn Rural and Hayden will be out to turn good 2021 boys soccer seasons into great ones Tuesday night.
Unbeaten Rural (17-0-0) will host Derby (15-1-2) in a 6 p.m. Class 6A state quarterfinal at McElroy Field, while Hayden (13-6-0) will go on the road for a 6 p.m. 4A-1A quarterfinal at Augusta (16-2-0).
With wins the Junior Blues and Wildcats will advance to the final four in their respective state tournaments Friday and Saturday at Olathe's College Boulevard Activity Center (6A) and Hummer Sports Park (4A-1A) and assure themselves of top-four state finishes.
Coming off an uncharacteristic 5-11-0 season a year ago, Klaus Kreutzer's Wildcats have bounced back this season to earn a berth in the state quarters with a 4-0 win over Independence last Thursday at the Sunflower Soccer Complex.
"It's a tribute to (the team),'' Kreutzer said. "We had a really tough year last year and I think they've worked hard and have been aggressive about it. Hopefully we can go make it count.''
Junior Chris Hayes scored a pair of goals in Hayden's win over Independence, while the Wildcats also got goals from juniors Jake Muller and Nick Padilla and senior Gabe Rankey recorded the shutout in goal.
Other 4A-1A state quarterfinals include Wichita Trinity (13-5-0) at Coffeyville (14-4-0), Bishop Miege (10-8-0) at Kansas City Christian (13-4-1) and Tonganoxie (11-6-1) at Eudora (13-4-1).
Washburn Rural is in familiar territory after finishing fourth at state last season.
The Junior Blues got a tough battle from Wichita East in their regional final, but advanced on an own goal and a dominating defensive effort. Senior Wyatt Arnold recorded the shutout in goal.
Washburn Rural coach Brian Hensyel was not surprised that Thursday's game was a nail-biter.
"Once you get past the first round the games are going to be tight and everybody who's left has found ways to win games,'' Hensyel said after Thursday's win. "We expected a tough game (Thursday) and we're just glad to advance. We didn't play our best but we played good enough to win.''
Senior Porter Schafersman leads the Junior Blues with 23 goals and 13 assists while Arnold has posted nine shutouts.
Other 6A quarterfinal matchups include Blue Valley Northwest (7-10-1) at Olathe Northwest (14-3-1), Olathe West (10-7-1) at Shawnee Mission West (11-4-3) and Wichita North (16-1-1) at Dodge City (17-0-1).
State tournament semifinals will be played at 5 and 7 p.m. Friday followed by the third-place and championship games at 12 and 2 p.m. on Saturday.