By KYLE MANTHE
Special to TopSports.news
There are a lot of parts of sports that can be controlled, one that cannot be controlled is who you play, for good or bad. For Shawnee Heights soccer it was the latter as the T-Birds opened the season with a 10-0 loss to Class 5A powerhouse Blue Valley Southwest.
"It's just a hard first game to start the season, but we know where we’re at, we’ve got a measuring stick to know where we can go from here,” said Shawnee Heights coach Kellen Griffin. “I’ve got a lot of great leaders from the seniors and the captains and even some of the juniors and sophomores that were on the team on varsity last year so I don’t think it’s going to affect us in (a bad) way.”
The Thunderbirds bring 11 seniors into the season from a team that went 13-5-0 last season as well as sophomores Lailah Benz and Isabell Van Fleet who were both first-team All-United Kansas Conference selections in 2022.
However, they were unable to generate a shot on goal against the strong Timerwolves defense, something Griffin is confident will change going forward.
“The good thing is they’ve got a base style of play from where we were at last year, but now it’s something we can build on more because we don’t have to review everything,” Griffin said. “So we got a starting point already and we can kind of build upon that and adjust as we go forward throughout the season.”
Jumping right into the deep end of the schedule did allow for immediate observation for Griffin, and reinforced year-long goals and strategies that aren’t accomplished in match number one.
“I learned where some of our girls are at in terms of development from last year to this year,” Griffin said. “We are going to have measuring sticks in terms of where our team is at compared to some of the other opponents we face and we just need to make sure we are building the entire season so that way we are playing the best soccer at the end of the season.”
Junior Hannah Palmer scored the first goal of the game for Blue Valley Southwest in the eighth minute of action. That was the only goal for the Timberwolves in the first 23 minutes of action, representing the best stretch of defense for the Thunderbirds.
BVSW got two goals in the next four minutes to make it 3-0 and H. Palmer blew the game open with two goals inside 30 seconds to give herself a first-half hat trick. Sophomore Sadie Sant scored her second goal of the game just before halftime to make it a 6-0 game.
The Timberwolves got four goals in the first 23 minutes of the second half to end the game at 10-0 with 17:49 still on the clock. H. Palmer scored the first, giving her four in the game and freshman Chloe Palmer had two as well.
Blue Valley Southwest totaled 12 shots on goal, led by five from H. Palmer, giving the Thunderbirds two saves. Eighteen players logged minutes for Shawnee Heights in the match as well.
BLUE VALLEY SOUTHWEST 10, SHAWNEE HEIGHTS 0
Blue Valley Southwest (1-0-0) 6 4 – 10
Shawnee Heights (0-1-0) 0 0 – 0
Blue Valley Southwest -- Goals: H. Palmer 4, Sant 2, L. Palmer 2, Kim, Owens Assists: Lang. Shutout: Riggs