Rockhurst sends Patriots packing again

By Michael Smith
The Examiner
Truman senior Alan Romero, front, sits in front of the bench dejectedly during the final minute of the Patriots' 7-1 loss to state power Rockhurst in the Class 4 District 14 championship Tuesday at Rockhurst. The Patriots lost to the Hawklets in the district final for the sixth straight year.

The Truman boys soccer team accomplished a rare feat against Rockhurst in the Class 4 District 14 championship match.

The Patriots scored a goal.

Just when it seemed like the Hawklets were going to cruise to victory while holding a 2-0 lead, Truman junior midfielder Omar Cano caught their defense off guard when he quickly punched in a free kick from the right side of the box in the 46th minute to cut the gap to 2-1.

After that point, the Patriots had an opportunity to make a comeback and pull off an upset. However, the perennial powerhouse quickly squashed those hopes, scoring back-to-back goals in the 48th and 49th minutes, which was a part of a 5-0 run in a 7-1 Rockhurst win Tuesday at home.

Truman junior Omar Cano (10) is congratulated by teammates Jayce Klein (9) and Garrett Burton (16) after scoring a goal in the Class 4 District 14 championship Tuesday night at Rockhurst. Cano's goal cut the Patriots' deficit to 2-1 but Rockhurst pulled away for a 7-1 victory.

“They had a pretty goal and they caught us off guard on the restart,” Rockhurst coach Matt Darby said of Truman. “That really refocused our kids and (to) take pride … because I think we had 14 shutouts this year. Scoring seven is nice but I think our guys would have rather won 2-0.”

After Cano scored, which was only the fifth goal the Hawlets have surrendered all season, Rockhurst seemed to have a sense of urgency, dominating possession for the remainder of the game.

Rockhurst junior Josh Pileggi knocked in a header off a cross from senior Brooks Davidson to make it 3-1 before senior John Ayala blasted a goal into the upper third after a cross from Grant Peters just a minute later.

Rockhurst's Josh Pileggi, right, heads in a goal over Truman goalkeeper Francisco Bonilla (0) in the Class 4 District 14 championship Tuesday at Rockhurst. The host Hawklets went on to claim a 7-1 win - their sixth straight over the Patriots in the district final - and a state sectional berth.

Rockhurst has now ended Truman’s season in the district championship for the sixth straight season.

“After they got the third one, it was an emotional drain,” Truman coach Manny Tovar said. “From there, everything went downhill.

“(After Cano’s goal) it was a good time to come back, but we were definitely tired and they are a good team. They are a disciplined team and they know how to press and when to press. It didn’t help that we gave the ball away a lot on long ball, long ball, long ball.”

It also didn’t help Truman’s cause that senior Josue Ramirez went down with an injury early.

“We were hoping to use him on the counterattack but I think he pulled his groin,” Tovar said. “That took a bit out of us not having his speed and aggressiveness up top.”

Truman senior Josh Dixon, back, collides with Rockhurst's Ryder Barrett (4) in a battle for the ball in their Class 4 District 14 final Tuesday. Rockhurst went on to claim a 7-1 win.

Ayala’s goal seemed like the dagger, but the Hawklets put the game even more out of reach after junior Simon Gansner drilled in a shot after getting by a Truman defender while going to his left at the top of the 18-yard box.

Junior Ryder Barrett added another score on a penalty kick and senior Nick Mazzarese scored on a header that bounced off the bottom of the crossbar and in.

Ayala and Bradyon Tomasic scored the Hawklet goals in the first half, both off assists from Peters.

“I think we have four guys with six goals but no more than that,” Darby said. “It’s a balanced scoring sheet. We have had 13 guys who have scored.”

Truman, which shared the Suburban Middle Six Conference title, ended its season at 10-9 and will lose a whopping 11 seniors to graduation.

“We won six out of our last seven (before Tuesday) and that was something we haven’t done since 2003,” Tovar said. “That was a great accomplishment by this group. We had 10 seniors in the starting lineup and that was a great way for them to go out on a streak like that.”

Truman's Omar Cano, center, tries to outrace Rockhurst's John Ayala (8) and Brooks Davidson (22) to the ball in the Class 4 District 14 championship. Rockhurst defeated the Patriots in the district final for the sixth straight year.

OAK GROVE 5, KANSAS CITY NORTHEAST 1: Oak Grove will play for the Class 2 District 7 championship after downing Kansas City Northeast 5-1 in a semifinal Tuesday night at Panther Stadium.

Gael Perez led the way for the Panthers, scoring four goals. Keegan Huff had the other goal as Oak Grove improved to 7-10.

Second-seeded Oak Grove advances to the 6 p.m. Thursday championship match against fifth-seeded St. Pius X (6-10), which upset top-seeded Center (13-6) 2-1 in the other semifinal.