By Todd Fertig
The Topeka West boys soccer team shook off an early deficit to defeat USD 501 rival Highland Park 5-2 at Hummer Sports Park Tuesday.
Before the Chargers could even break a sweat, they found themselves in a hole when Highland Park freshman David Colon followed up a diving deflection by the Charger goalkeeper and punched the ball home. With just 53 seconds played, Topeka West faced adversity.
“He was fast and a finisher, so we can’t take anything for granted. He was ready to go,” Topeka West coach Josh Kutter said of the Scots’ early score. “I’m very proud of how our guys responded. They kept their cool and they stuck to the game plan and played like they know how to play.”
“It was a little surprising. It was kind of like a wakeup call,” Charger senior Isaac Gonzalez-Talavera said of the early deficit. “I was a little nervous, but I know our team’s well put together and we can come back from stuff like that. We’ve done it before.”
It took 10 minutes, but eventually the Chargers evened the score on a long blast by senior Jaden Patterson. Two minutes later, Daniel Rich gave Topeka West the lead and they never looked back.
The Chargers added goals by Giancarlo Valenzuela, D’Ante Smith Dilone and Brendan Komma to claim their second win of the season against three losses.
After a season-opening loss to Hayden, the Chargers traveled to the FAT CAT tournament in Kansas City, where they took losses to Blue Valley Northwest and St. James and grabbed their first win against Basehor-Linwood.
“Last season we got off to a slow start but came on to finish strong. So, we look at this as a continuation of what we built last season,” Kutter said. “Two guys who scored today are coming back from early injuries, so that’s a good sign that our team is just getting stronger.”
“We started 0-8 last year, but then we got a tie and really picked it up from there,” said Gonzalez-Talavera. “We ended up winning almost half of our (remaining) games. Unfortunately, we lost a lot of seniors, but the freshmen and the sophomores have really picked up the slack and we’re building on last year’s success.”
The Scots, who dropped to 0-3 on the year, got a late goal from Bruno Nunez.
Kutter noted his team’s familiarity with fellow Topeka USD 501 school Highland Park.
“These guys are all friends, and they play against each other all year round,” Kutter said. “So anytime that they get to play other 501 schools and we get a win, it’s a positive feeling.”
TOPEKA WEST 5, HIGHLAND PARK 2
Topeka West (2-3) 4 1 — 5
Highland Park (0-3) 1 1 — 2
Topeka West — Goals: Patterson, Rich, Valenzuela, Dilone, Komma. Assists: I. Gonzalez-Talavera 2, Valenzuela.
Highland Park — Goals: Colon, Nunez. Assists: none.