By ISAAC DEER
Topeka High midfielder Haley Carpenter had an unforgettable night in Monday’s 2-1 victory over the Class 5A No. 8-ranked Shawnee Heights.
Coming into Monday night’s frigid cold game at Hummer Sports Park, Shawnee Heights had only allowed two goals the entire 2022 campaign (one to Seaman and one to De Soto), but Carpenter accepted the challenge and scored as many goals as the T-Birds had allowed all season with both of the Trojans' goals as High snapped Heights' six-game win streak
“It was a big moment for me,” Carpenter said. “It was a really big deal scoring in those tonight. We have great team chemistry and believe in each other. We always lift each other up, even when we are doing bad. I couldn’t have done what I did tonight without those girls.
“I’m glad I didn’t miss those goals because of how hard we worked to get down there.”
Both of Carpenter’s eye-opening goals came in the second half against the T-Birds.
“Her goals were huge,” Topeka High coach Derek Snook said. “Shawnee Heights is an incredible team that is well-coached. Haley was where she was supposed to be. She crashed the goal on shots near the goal very well. Her goals weren’t necessarily by design, but she got the job done.”
Topeka High (9-3) came in with a three-game win streak, gaining momentum towards the tail end of the season. The journey hasn’t been easy for the Trojans, who have dealt with adversity most of the year.
“I have to puff out my chest when I talk about how hard these girls work,” Snook said. “They are some of the smartest and most talented group of girls I’ve ever coached. They never give up on anything. They don’t give up in the classroom, when they have an injury or when the weather is bad.
“They never stop fighting and I’m so proud of them.”
Topeka High had to fight extra hard on Monday night. A win wasn’t going to be easy with a terrific T-Bird defense, wind gusts nearing 20 miles per hour and heavy rainfall.
The first half was a 0-0 stalemate. While Topeka High had eight different chances to score, Shawnee Heights had a difficult time getting the ball into High’s territory. That left the T-Birds with a slim amount of opportunities to score.
Topeka High’s high-flying defenders and mid-fielders blanked Shawnee Heights.
Faith Shields, Tae Thomas, Avery Zimmerman, Luxanna Sands and others were in the face of Shawnee Heights' players before they could even turn around.
On the flip side, Shawnee Heights also played terrific under pressure. While the ball was in their territory more often than not, they were able to make the Lady Trojans uncomfortable. Topeka High was just inches away from scoring on multiple occasions, but Shawnee Heights’ defense was strong.
Goalkeepers Keira Trupp of Topeka High and Tatum Hoge were fantastic.
While Trupp didn’t have to sweat as much as Hoge, she capitalized on every opportunity to get a save.
While the teams were in their locker rooms, the heavy rain started to pour. With the heavy rain, it was going to be even harder to score.
Four minutes into the second half, Topeka High had another close scoring opportunity, but couldn’t quite put it in.
Sands was left in open territory one-on-one with Hoge. Sands tried to fake-out Hoge, but Hoge made an incredible save.
Thomas would have that same opportunity moments later, but Hoge prevailed again, making a spectacular jump at the top of the goal getting the save.
With Hoge’s ownership of the goalie box for the entirety of the game, Topeka High needed to try a bit harder.
The Trojans once again found themselves in T-Bird territory where Carpenter would sneak a goal for Topeka High in the crowded box. Topeka High would take a 1-0 lead 8:05 into the second half.
Eleven minutes later, Zimmerman would set up Carpenter beautifully for her second goal while Hoge was on the ground in the slippery rain after defending a shot, allowing Topeka High to go up by two goals.
With 4:09 left in the contest, T-Bird midfielder Lily Marten would decrease the deficit by one goal with a goal from a penalty kick.
Shawnee Heights was able to get into Topeka High’s territory one more time, but Trupp denied the T-Birds' opportunity to tie the game.
Topeka High’s defense would hang on for the last remaining minute and defeat Shawnee Heights, 2-1.
Topeka High (9-3) will collide with Centennial League foe Topeka West Tuesday night at Hummer Sports Park. Shawnee Heights (10-2) will take on Blue Valley Southwest on Thursday night.
TOPEKA HIGH 2, SHAWNEE HEIGHTS 1
Shawnee Heights (10-2) 0 1 – 1
Topeka High (9-3) 0 2 – 2
Goals -- Shawnee Heights:Martin. Topeka High: Carpenter 2. Assists – Topeka High: Zimmerman.