By RICK PETERSON
Every win is big, especially for a Topeka West boys soccer team that has struggled in recent seasons.
But a win over USD 501 rival Topeka High is extra special for the Chargers, who took a 1-0 victory over the Trojans Monday night at Hummer Sports Park, West's first win over High since 2020.
"Every time we play HIgh it is a whole different game to us,'' said senior Harrison Lane, who scored the game-winning goal midway through the second half. "It means more and to get this win tonight it means so much to our seniors and our incoming freshmen.
"It really shows them how how good we can be and shows them how good we are.''
After 59:59 of a scoreless stalmate, Lane scored the night's only goal off an assist from senior Isaac Gonzalez-Talavera with 20:01 remaining.
"It was a breakaway and I trusted my teammate Isaac to make that run and I made it and he found me with the ball and I tried to find the corner and I found it,'' Lane said.
The West defense and junior goalkeeper Edi Conejo did the rest, keeping Topeka High out of the net for the remainder of the match.
Conejo is the Chargers' backup keeper, taking over Gage Kindred -Noragon, who is currently sidelined with illness.
"Honestly, it's not the most ideal situation we have but he did what we ask him to do and he's doing amazing right now,'' Lane said. "And when our main goalie comes back we're still going to need him to step in every once in a while so I'm really glad he's been able to step up to the big stage.''
With Monday's win Topeka West evened its record at 3-3 while equaling its win total for the entire '22 season.
"Every season we believe we can be good and I think this year has really shown we have all the key components to be good and we're just trying to do that to the best of our ability,'' Lane said.
Topeka West coach Josh Kutter said the Chargers continue to gain momentum.
"This group, they've gone through the struggle and they know hard work and we're really proud,'' Kutter said. "Our leaders are stepping up and we're building on it.
"They don't quit, they fight hard all the time.''
Topeka High will be back in action Tuesday, traveling to Tonganoxie for a non-league game while Topeka West will host United Kansas Conference opponent Seaman at Hummer Sports Park on Wednesday.
TOPEKA WEST 1, TOPEKA HIGH 0
Topeka West (3-3) 0 1 -- 1
Topeka High (1-4) 0 0 -- 0
Topeka West -- Goal: Harrison Lane. Assist: Isaac Gonzalez-Talavera. Shutout: Edi Conejo.