Boys soccer wins school’s first state soccer title with 1-0 victory over Olathe West

A single score outing from senior midfielder Nico Pendleton and shutout by senior goalkeeper Colin Riley helped the team secure the title

Ava Gourd

Gabby Delpleash, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

The boys soccer team huddled inside of Olathe West’s goal post at Wichita-Stryker Sports Complex for team photos Saturday, Nov. 5, medals around their necks, the 6A state championship trophy front and center and the number one shown on their fingers. 

Victorious screams and yells echoed across the field, “We’re not a football school anymore!”

Thanks to a one-point score effort by senior midfielder Nico Pendleton and a defensive shutout by senior goalkeeper Colin Riley, the team took home the school’s first state soccer title in a 1-0 triumph over Olathe West. 

Becoming state champions was the culmination of everything the boys worked for this season. Having not been to a championship since their very first trip in 2006, the team’s 15 seniors kept the prospect of a state title in the back of their minds while deciding to take their regular season “one game at a time,” according to Riley.

I wouldn’t trade these last four years of soccer for anything in the world.

— goalkeeper senior Colin Riley

“We all knew that the games we were going to play [this season] were going to be tough,” Riley said. “Through two weeks of practice, we really just grinded it out, practiced hard. We always knew we wanted to go to state, but we always took it one game at a time, no matter who we were playing. Always focus on one team at a time and go win.”

In a spellbinding 80-minute match, the boys were able to reverse their previous 2-0 loss to OW from earlier this season, their only loss on the season.

In support of the soccer team’s trip to state, parents and many students chose to make the nearly three hour drive to Wichita to pack the stands for the boys team Friday night, where they won 1-0 over Washburn Rural and Saturday afternoon. For senior Max Weber, who had a front row spot to both matches, watching his friends play in their first state championship game was nerve-racking.

“[The atmosphere] was very hostile,” Weber said. “We were all very nervous for the game and there was a lot of tension so whenever there was a bad call, in our opinion, we let [the referees] hear it. But it was fun. All for the love of the game.” 

The first 40 minutes of the match saw no goals from either side. 

Coming back to the field for the second half, the boys began to play with more assertion, creating several chances for themselves to score a goal but falling short of West’s defense each time. As the game clock ticked down to 12 minutes, Pendleton whipped the ball into the corner of Olathe West’s goal net to put the team up one point over West. 

The defensive effort by the Jaguars and Riley kept West from equalizing in the match’s last several minutes. As the final whistle blew and the clock hit zero, players, coaches and excited fans rushed the field to celebrate as the Kansas 6A soccer trophy was handed over to the Jags.

Riley recalls being in a state of disbelief when he ran to celebrate his teammates and claims that soccer’s state victory still has yet to entirely sink in for him.

“After the final whistle I was just in shock, I couldn’t believe it,” Riley said. “After four years of playing, I had three years of disappointment with things not going our way. For this [season] to finally go our way, it was surreal. I went over and found the closest person, [defender senior Owen] Peachee, and just hugged them. It was probably one of the best moments of my life so far.”

From the stands, Weber could hardly contain his emotion.

“[When we won, it was] pure excitement,” Weber said. “I think I hugged [senior] Zack Kellogg and gave [assistant administrator Marilyn] Chrisler a high five. There’s nothing like watching the Jags win some hardware.”

The victory capped off an 18-1-1 season which featured not just an acquisition of the school’s first soccer state title, but also a double overtime victory over Shawnee Mission East in the state-qualifier match and a blowout victory over last year’s season-ender De Soto

Walking off the high school field for the last time with a state title under his belt, Riley credits the community, his teammates, head soccer coach Jason Pendleton and former coach Arlan Vomhof for helping shape the team’s road to state as well as his personal athletic journey. 

“Seeing this community rally behind us, not just at state but throughout the whole season, made me feel proud, like we actually did something that mattered,” Riley said. “I wouldn’t trade these last four years of soccer for anything in the world.”

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