By Todd Fertig
The Freeman twins made the big plays at both ends of the soccer field to lead Shawnee Heights to a 1-0 non-league win over Topeka High at Hummer Sports Park Tuesday.
Junior goalkeeper Carter Freeman defended the Shawnee Heights net all night, preserving the shutout.
After a scoreless first half, his twin brother, Jackson Freeman, chased down a pass up the middle of the field from senior Levi Longstaff, beating the lunging Topeka High keeper to the ball. He punched it past the arms of the keeper before tumbling over him. The ball bounded into the net for the game’s only score.
“Jackson got quality minutes as a sophomore, but this year with a ton of injuries, he’s become our go-to,” Shawnee Heights coach Nic Simons said. “He has so much speed, and when we need a goal, we say ‘Jackson, find one.’ That’s what we told him at halftime, and he managed to do it.”
“At the beginning of the game, it was hard, I was getting really tired,” Jackson Freeman said. “But we finally came through with that goal. It’s a momentum shift. You can be kind of down, but when you get that goal, everyone gets excited.”
While the Freeman twins were the ones to put their names in the box score, Simons called the victory a team effort.
“This season, we have been zero-zero at halftime a lot only to come out on the losing end of the match. So, I was super proud of the guys to see them continue to fight,” Simons said. “I challenged them ‘Who are going to be the guys to step up?’ And all of them stepped up. More than any game this year, this was a truly total team win. We had 11 players at the same time step up.
“This was a good win for us. This was a good win at the right time. We’ve had some adversity this season with injuries and lots of other things that haven’t bounced our way.”
The opposing goalkeepers dueled throughout the night, each making a number of crucial stops. Carter Freeman said such a tight battle is both fun and nerve-wracking.
“Sometimes you can get nervous,” Carter Freeman said. “There’s a lot of pressure. It’s a relief when it’s over. But I give all the credit to my defense.”
“Carter didn’t come in playing goalkeeper as a freshman,” Simons said. “His freshman year, we graduated a goalkeeper (Jaden Rodriguez) who was all-city, all-league, all-state…we’ve been blessed with goalkeepers at Heights for a long time. And I went to the guys and said, ‘Who’s keeper?’ And Carter said, ‘Well coach, I’ve played it some.’ He came out and he earned the starting spot as a sophomore and is having a great season this year, making some amazing saves for us.”
Simons stressed to his team how important it was to get the win Tuesday to improve to 5-6-0 on the year. The T-Birds play Topeka West Thursday with a chance to even their season record.
While he called the win a team effort, Simons said he enjoyed seeing the Freeman twins play such a big role in a victory.
“It’s kind of fun to have the twin brothers down the spine of the field, and controlling both ends,” Simons said. “When we win it as a keeper and when we score, they’ve got both goals covered.”
“It’s fun playing with my twin brother,” Carter Freeman said. “I do enjoy it. Not many people have a twin, so it’s cool. When he scores, I say, ‘That’s my brother.’ It’s a good feeling.”
Shawnee Heights (5-6-0) 0 1 — 1
Topeka High (6-5-0) 0 0 — 0
Shawnee Heights — Goal: J. Freeman. Assists: Longstaff. Shutout: C. Freeman.