By ISAAC DEER
For the first time in Cair Paravel Latin's short history in the KSHSAA, the Lions' girls soccer team will take part in the Class 4A-1A state semifinals after knocking off Hayden in Tuesday's state quarterfinal game at the Bettis Family Sports Complex, 2-1.
Cair Paravel (14-3-0) has shown in the 2022 campaign that it deserves to be considered one of 4A-1A's top teams and on Tuesday, the Lions' victory proved that the moment wasn’t too big for its youthful squad. Out of its 22 players, only one player is a senior.
Cair Paravel has now laid the foundation and is hoping that the state quarterfinal victory won’t be its last of the season.
“I feel like all of our pieces are in the right place,” Cair Paravel coach Doug Woolery said. “This is something I’ve never felt before. We are new to KSHSAA and in our second year. Last year, we won regionals but lost to (Bishop) Miege the very next game. This is a feeling I have to wrap my head around because we’ve never been here before.
“This is very exciting for our program. I’m super happy for our girls. Our girls deserved the win today. This is what you aspire to do. You want to see your team do the best they can. Sooner or later we are going to have to beat Bishop Miege to be a state champion. We need to look forward and try to keep this momentum going.”
After clobbering Bishop Seabury 9-0 in the regional championship, the Lions had to battle Hayden to the end for their slim one-goal victory.
“We knew we were going to have a tough game,” Woolery said. “When we played (Hayden) in our second game of the season, I didn’t have all of my pieces in the right places. I felt like going into today that (Hayden) was going to see a different team from us.”
Cair Paravel introduced itself early to the Wildcats. Freshman standout attacker, Zahra Lewis scored the game’s opening goal just 2:34 into the contest. Lewis was set up by Katherine Keys and Keys’ slick pass allowed Lewis to rifle the ball to the bottom left corner of the goal.
“It was really important to get that first goal so quick,” Lewis said. “I thought the goal set the tone for the game. As soon as we got the first goal, we knew we could do this. It was the perfect way to start the game.”
Cair Paravel’s momentum made it difficult for Hayden to halt the Lions.
The exceptional passing from the Lions would pay off in another big way with 23:10 to go in the first half. Lewis would tap it to Corinne Stapleton, Stapleton would execute the short pass to Keys and Keys would net the goal. Cair Paravel had a two-goal lead before the halftime break.
“I knew my goal was going to make it much more difficult on Hayden,” Keys said. “One goal leads are easier to come back from than two-goal leads. It’s much easier to tie a game than to score twice. It was really important for us to get that big lead before halftime. I was glad to help.”
The Lions’ back-line would prevent Hayden to have any type of open scoring opportunity throughout the entire first half. Goalkeeper Sawyer Schwartz was a key contributor to shutting down Hayden in the first half.
“I felt incredibly anxious in the first half,” Schwartz said. “We’ve never been in a situation like this before. Our offense’s two quick goals really helped me settle in and settle down. The strength our defense had today will be big for us down this stretch. We are trying to win it all and we have to keep improving every day for that to happen.”
Hayden wanted to be more aggressive with its shots coming out of the halftime break.
Hayden midfielder Lauren Sandstrom would give Hayden new life with an enormous goal. Jill Lenherr would contribute to Sandstrom’s goal with the assist.
With Sandstrom’s goal, Hayden decreased its deficit by one goal with 27:25 left in the contest.
The game would get much more physical and gut-wrenching as the clock kept ticking away. Both Hayden and Cair Paravel would have multiple opportunities to score but the defenses were nearly perfect for the remainder of the game.
Cair Paravel would hang on by a thread for its victory as Hayden finished its season with a 9-7-1 record.
Cair Paravel will play Buhler (11-7-1) in a 5 p.m. Class 4A-1A state semifinal on Friday. at Hummer Sports Park.
McPherson (15-3-1) will face Bishop Miege (13-5-1) in the 7 o'clock semiinal.
The state championship game will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday at Hummer, following the 12 p.m. third-place game.
CAIR PARAVEL 2, HAYDEN 1
Hayden (9-7-1) 0 1 – 1
Cair Paravel (14-3-0) 2 0 – 2
Hayden – Goal: Sandstrom. Hayden – Lenherr.
Cair Paravel – Goals: Lewis, Keys. Assists: Keys, Stapleton.