Brotherly love: Rios brothers help send Falcons past Guardians into state playoffs

By Bill Althaus
Van Horn senior forward Edison Rios, right, rips off his jersey to celebrate his game-winning goal as teammates Jorge Venegas (17), Yovani Moreno (9) and Jeferson Rios (12) chase after him Wednesday. Rios scored a golden goal in double overtime to lift the Falcons to a 1-0 victory over St. Michael the Archangel Catholic in the Class 3 District 14 championship.

Edison Rios knew something had to give.

His Van Horn Falcons were busy battling St. Michael the Archangel Catholic in the Class 3 District 14 championship game at William Chrisman High School on a night that was made for soccer.

The Falcons’ senior All-American forward had been marked by the Guardians throughout a scoreless 80 minutes of regulation play and one overtime period.

“I just needed an opening, a chance to score, to win one for my teammates,” said Rios, who slipped past a pair of Guardian defenders while taking a deft pass from his brother Jeferson. “I saw their goalkeeper come at me and I just took the shot. When I saw the ball hit the back of the net, I think that was one of the happiest moments of my life.”

The game-winner came at 11:22 of the second overtime and sparked a celebration in which Rios ripped off his jersey.

Van Horn goalkeeper Cooper Sumpter, left, tips a shot by St. Michael the Archangel's Keegan LeNeave (14) just wide of the goalpost in the Class 3 District 14 championship game Wednesday. Sumpter shut out the Guardians and the Falcons scored in the second overtime for a 1-0 victory.

“And for years, Jeferson and I have dreamed about being on the same team,” Edison added. “Well, I’m a senior and he’s a freshman and he gives me the perfect pass and I score! Our Falcon team is one big family, but Jeferson and I are real brothers and this is a moment we will never forget.”

It’s a moment that no member of the 19-4 Falcons will ever forget.

“Unbelievable,” Falcons coach Jesus Rodriguez said. “We knew this would be an amazing game. Two great teams, two great defenses and two of the best goalies in the area.

“The last time we played them, they scored in the 75th minute to beat us 1-0. So we knew what to expect today and Edison had the answer in the second overtime.”

Van Horn's Tony Chavira (8) beats St. Michael's Diego Garcia to a ball in the air in the Class 3 District 14 final Wednesday at William Chrisman. Van Horn claimed a sectional playoff berth with a 1-0 win in double overtime.

Rios just missed two early shots on goal that Guardians goalie Hudson Waller was able to swat away, and that only made the senior star more determined to find a way to score.

“He’s so good, so quick,” Rios said of Waller. “Most players would be disappointed, or feel like they shouldn’t take any more shots when they miss like I did early in the game. But that just made me more determined to score.”

Van Horn's Diego Coronado, left, settles the ball in front of St. Michael's Chris Oberkrom (22) in their Class 3 District 14 championship game Wednesday. Van Horn edged the Guardians 1-0 in double overtime.

Watching and listening to Rios’ comments was his brother, who was sporting an ear-to-ear grin.

“This is an amazing night, one of the most amazing nights of our lives,” Jeferson said. “I am so proud of this team and am so honored to play with Edison. It’s something we have talked about for a long time, and we were able to play as teammates this year for Van Horn.

“Tonight, I knew he was going to do something special, especially after missing our first game (a 3-2 overtime semifinal win over Raytown South). We were able to score enough points in that game to win without him, but we needed him tonight.”

Van Horn senior Edison Rios (4) hoists the championship plaque after his goal in double overtime lifted the Falcons to a 1-0 win over St. Michael the Archangel Catholic in the Class 3 District 14 final Wednesday night at William Chrisman High School.

Rios missed Monday’s district semifinal win because of a personal situation, and he felt like he owed his teammates something special against the Guardians.

“The boys took care of business against South, and I am so proud of them for that,” Rios said. “I felt like I let them down by missing that game, and I told them I would make up for it tonight.”

Perhaps the only Falcon who was more pleased than Rios was goalkeeper Cooper Sumpter, who starred in the net as he made save after save to keep the Guardians at bay.

“I had no doubt we were going to win this game,” Sumpter said. “I was fighting so hard to keep the ball out of the net, because I knew we were going to find some way to score and win this game, and with Edison back on the field, you knew something good was going to happen.

“They got us in the regular season and we were able to get them tonight. They’re a great team – they made us work so hard to get this win – and it was worth every minute it took tonight.”

Van Horn advances to Saturday's Class 3 sectional against the District 13 champion, Belton or Harrisonville. Time and site are yet to be determined.

Van Horn players and coaches pose with the championship plaque after edging St. Michael the Archangel Catholic in the Class 3 District 14 championship Wednesday.