Washburn Rural soccer stays perfect with overtime winner. Young Seaman team almost pulled upset.

Seth Kinker
Topeka Capital-Journal
Washburn Rural sophomore Devon Rutschmann had a key first half assist that tied the game at one before halftime against Seaman on Tuesday.

The Washburn Rural Junior Blues boys soccer team (12-0) scored a golden goal overtime winner on Tuesday at home against the Seaman Vikings (4-8) to maintain their unblemished record.

“If we play and were the hardest-working team on the field — we have a lot of talent — it’ll be hard to beat us,” said Junior Blues head coach Brian Hensyel. “Seaman was by far the hardest-working team in the first half, and that evened the game out, and it was difficult for us to get anything accomplished.”

The Vikings would score first, marking the first time the Junior Blues had trailed at any point this season.

With about 15 minutes to go in the first half, senior midfielder Gavin Wilhelm played a free kick from midfield to senior forward Pablo Font. Font got a first touch and punched it in to give the Vikings the lead.

But the Junior Blues would respond before halftime on a goal from senior midfielder Kaden Hill on a cross from sophomore forward Devon Rutschmann that came across the box and found Hill on the backside to tie it.

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Another issue for the Vikings was the injury loss of two starters who wouldn’t return.

“Losing Kyson Evans in the first half killed us,” said Vikings head coach Jacob Kirmer on the senior defender. “He went out, wasn’t able to return. Kaelin Loy goes out and wasn’t able to return.”

At halftime, Kirmer said they talked about staying the course, knowing what they wanted to do defensively against the talented Junior Blues and having a game plan offensively and just continuing to play together and keeping up the communication.

Kirmer said he thought the defensive effort in Tuesday night’s game was spectacular but knew they could’ve helped themselves more if they could’ve possessed it in the offensive third more.

With those first-half injuries, the Vikings had to move players around. The Junior Blues were in attack mode for the majority of the second half as they lived on the Vikings half of the field.

The chances were there with crosses into the box from the wings, corner kicks and free kicks, and the Junior Blues had a plethora of looks throughout the half. The Vikings defense stood tall.

“Seaman played great,” said Hensyel. “We had to adjust things and move guys a little bit to find a way to break them down.”

“Rural is relentless. They have a great offensive scheme, they don’t stop,” said Kirmer. “Our guys stood up to the test. I think we had five goal line clearances throughout the game. It was a tough battle, but I thought we played our hearts out.”

"Ayden Thompson did a magnificent job. He's a great keeper," added Kirmer on the junior who had multiple point blank saves. "I'm glad we have him back next year. The defense helped him out best they could and he worked his tail off."

Seaman junior goalkeeper Ayden Thompson (33) makes a save against Shawnee Heights earlier in the season.

But in overtime, the Junior Blues finally prevailed. A corner kick just a few minutes into the first overtime period saw senior forward Porter Schaefersman get a touch on the ball before senior forward Ashton Rake put it home to secure the win.

“We pride ourselves on trying to score set pieces,” said Hensyel on the game winner. “We got a good ball in the box and usually our rule is, if you touch it first in the box something good will happen.”

“I’m leaving tonight happy we got the win but very impressed with Coach Kirmer and Seaman. They’ve got a lot of young guys out there, and they’ll be a handful in the future, it was impressive.”

Although it wasn’t the finish the Vikings wanted, Kirmer said he told the team he was proud of them for their effort against one of the top teams in the state.

After dropping five in a row, the Vikings had come into the game against the Junior Blues riding a three-game win streak, all shutouts, and Kirmer noted the progression he’s seen from a young team this season.

“We aren’t making the silly mistakes in the box that allows free goals,” said Kirmer. “That’s really been it. We’ve had three shutouts up until now and played really solid games following Junction City. They aren’t backing down; they keep coming back for more. We’ll be in the right place at the right time.”

The Junior Blues traveled to Iowa last week for an annual tournament where they face tough competition from all over the country.

Hensyel talked about the silver lining to Tuesday’s grind-it-out win over the Vikings and the positive impact it could have moving forward.

“We’ve got to respect all opponents. It doesn’t matter if were playing a national tournament or a team in our league,” said Hensyel. “Everyone wants to get after you. This was probably good for us. We’ve been cruising, haven’t had any game pressure at all.

“We haven’t been behind all season until we went down 1-0 and certainly been nowhere near overtime so far this year. Whether we had won easy or like this, I think the experience of a tough game like this might be the best thing that could’ve happened to us.”

Contact Seth Kinker at skinker@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @SethKinker.