By Todd Fertig

The Cair Paravel Latin girls soccer team’s three seniors remember when seventh-graders were needed to field a full team. They recall competing for championships in leagues that received little to no media recognition.

CairParavelseniorsCair Paravel seniors Eva Rollenhagen, Audrey Smith and Sage Schwartz were honored Wednesday on Senior Night after the Lions' 3-0 win over Heritage Christian. [Photo by Isaac Deer/TSN]

KeysFriessKatherine Keys (1) and Zahra Friess both scored goals and had assists in Cair Paravel's 3-0 weather-shortened win over Heritage Christian Wednesday. [Photo by Isaac Deer/TSN]

KellyAnnChadasoccer2Cair Paravel's KellyAnn Chada scored a goal in the Lions' 3-0 weather-shortened win over Heritage Christian on Wednesday. [Photo by Isaac Deer/TSN]

They also remember advancing to KSHSAA’s Class 4-1A state Final Four last spring, the smallest school in the state with a soccer team reaching the biggest stage. 

With a 3-0 weather-shortened win over Heritage Christian Academy at the Sunflower Soccer Association on Wednesday, CPLS assured itself of a top-two position in the 4-1A East Region and sewed up a bye in the first round of the regional playoffs that kick off next week.  

To the seniors who remember where the program came from, that’s further confirmation that they belong. 

“It’s so nice to be able to play (in KSHSAA) these past couple of years,” said Sage Schwartz. “I feel like it really showcases our school’s skill because we’re so small we don’t usually get recognized.” 

“The amazing part is that, even before we got to KSHSAA, we worked just as hard and really the style of our play hasn’t really changed,” Audrey Smith said. “We just had more opportunities to show people what we could do.”  

Wednesday, the Lions struggled through a scoreless match with Heritage Christian until the 27-minute mark, when Zahra Friess punched home a cross from Katherine Keys. The Lions got goals from KellyAnn Chada and Keys in quick succession as the sky darkened. 

Lightning ended the game at the half, but the CPLS fans stuck around to celebrate the three seniors. 

While the CPLS team can now prove itself in a KSHSAA playoff format, the program didn’t take a big leap in level of competition when it joined KSHSAA two seasons ago, the seniors said. 

“It hasn’t really gotten harder,” said Eva Rollenhagen. “We’ve always played against the (5A and 6A) schools in our area, so we sort of got a taste of what it would be like to play in KSHSAA. And (Coach Doug) Woolery has always pushed us really hard.” 

The CPLS seniors acknowledged players from the pre-KSHSAA era who helped set a high standard for the program. 

“Because we played with the older girls from seventh grade, we knew we had a reputation to try to live up to,” Rollenhagen said. “It’s really nice to know that this is our team now. It’s been fun to take us to the next level and see our team improve each year.  

“Getting to go to state (last year) and do well this season is kind of like showing what those girls before us could have done,” Schwartz added. 

The Lions have one more regular season contest remaining, a trip to Baldwin on Friday. While the Lions are assured of either first or second in the regional playoffs, the game is important for seeding, Woolery said. 

“Playing against Baldwin is always a big game,” Woolery said. “Baldwin has a tough team. We’ve come to appreciate the challenge of playing them.” 

Win or lose at Baldwin, the Lions will play in the second round of the regional playoffs on May 18 at Bettis Family Sports Complex.  

Woolery said this year’s team isn’t affected by the expectation to equal or exceed last year’s accomplishments. 

“I would say with this group of girls, I don’t think it affects them in a negative way,” Woolery said. “I think they are up for the challenge. I don’t think it’s an undue amount of pressure on them.  

“I think the chemistry in this group is fantastic. I don’t have to do a lot to motivate them. They have this innate desire to do well. ''


Heritage Christian Academy (10-5-1) 0 x — 0  

Cair Paravel (13-1-1) 3 x — 3 

Cair Paravel — Goals: Friess, Chada, Keys. Assists: Keys, Sage Schwartz, Friess. Shutout: Sawyer Schwartz.

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