Van Horn’s quest for a perfect season has ended.
It didn’t end the way Van Horn boys soccer coach Jesus Rodriguez or his Falcons would’ve liked.
Tagged by two early first-half goals, the Falcons fell 3-1 to Kansas City East Wednesday night at Staley High School. The loss in the Class 3 District 15 title game ended Van Horn’s season at 25-1.
“It’s unfortunate that we ended up like this – especially when I felt, as a collective group, we were much better,” Rodriguez said. “They were individually faster, taller, stronger. But as a collective group, we were a better team.”
For the Bears (15-4-1), ending Van Horn’s undefeated run came down to something they hadn’t done during their 3-0 Aug. 29 loss to the Falcons – finishing.
“We had mounds and mounds of opportunities and just did not score,” East coach NarWarrior Mackey said. “So this time, we talked all week about getting the ball in the net. And the boys heard the coaches. They listened to us and they got the job done this time.”
Adolphe Walemba finished twice for East, scoring in the second and 13th minutes to help the Bears build a 2-0 halftime lead.
“Adolphe has played JV for us almost the entire season. We just kept watching him and watching him, and we got to a point where we realized that we needed to use the young man on our varsity team,” Mackey said. “He came out, did an outstanding job in the first round of the playoffs. So we made sure we kept him in there and started him.”
Arguably, Van Horn’s best first-half scoring chances came in the 16th minute, when the Falcons took three rapid shots in succession. East keeper Yamungu Mapenzi stopped the first by coming off his line to challenge a breakaway attempt. An East defender then cleared a floater sent to the goal. Van Horn’s third attempt went wide.
“We had a couple opportunities before the half,” Rodriguez said. “If we get it to 2-1, the second half would’ve been a different ballgame. But we weren’t able to put it in.”
Beniot Bilombele tapped a shot into an open net in the 45th minute for the final goal for the Bears, who will face District 16 champion Smithville in sectional action Tuesday. The Bears defeated the Warriors in August 4-3, with the Liberty Tournament meeting decided by a shootout.
Senior forward Favian Valenzuela headed in Abraham Colin’s crossing pass in the 60th minute for Van Horn’s lone goal, but that’s all the Falcons could muster offensively.
“We tried,” Rodriguez said. “We did our best, I think, in the second half. We didn’t give up till the final whistle. … The ball didn’t go in.”