By RICK PETERSON
Washburn Rural's boys soccer team stared elimination in the face Tuesday night and lived to play another day.
Now the Junior Blues want to take advantage of surviving that 2-1 overtime nailbiter with Garden City in a Class 6A quarterfinal and take aim on the fourth boys state title in Washburn Rural history Friday and Saturday at Hummer Sports Park.
"We're glad to get past (that) one, we're glad to survive,'' Washburn Rural coach Brian Hensyel said. "We're going to have to be awesome this weekend. It's maybe going to be as loaded of a final four as we've ever had.''
The Junior Blues will take a sparkling 18-1-0 record into Friday's 6:30 p.m. semifinal against Shawnee Mission West (14-3-2) while Dodge City (18-1-0) will face Olathe East (15-4-0) in the opening semifinal at 4 p.m.
The semifinal winners will play for the state championship at 3 p.m. Saturday, following a 12 p.m. third-place game.
Washburn Rural, which has yet to lose to a Kansas opponent this fall, never trailed after getting a goal from senior Lawsen Lobatos-Dick with 6:55 left in the first half, but Garden City scored at the 18:06 mark of the second half to even the score anf force OT.
Garden City was awarded a free kick early in the overtime but Rural got the save and then got the game-winning goal from sophomore Draden Chooncharoen at the 3:10 mark of the first OT period off senior Devon Rutschmann's second assist of the night.
"Five sophomores start and that doesn't happen here very often,'' Hensyel said. "Our senior class is great, but the thing that elevates this team is when you have a great senior class but then you have good young talent to pair with it, it's pretty awesome.
"Those five sophomores have been huge. Each one of them have had moments during the season. There were times early in the year where Draden was struggling a little bit and wanted to find the back of the net but the playoffs and the end of the season, he's been awesome putting some goals in for us.''
Chooncharoen said Tuesday's dramatic finish should give the Junior Blues a boost in confidence going into this weekend.
"It gives us a chance to win and just being there makes you very confident,'' Chooncharoen said.
Friday's semifinal berth is the latest in a long line of state appearances for Rural, including four straight.
"We kind of have a formula here of how we want to get it done,'' Hensyel said. "It's been good enough to get us there a bunch of times, but it's been awhile since we won one (2012) so we're hoping that we can change that this weekend.''
CLASS 6A STATE SOCCER
4 p.m. -- Dodge City (18-1-0) vs. Olathe East (15-4-0.
6:30 -- Washburn Rural (18-1-0) vs. Shawnee Mission West (14-3-2).
12 p.m. -- Third place.
3 -- Championship.