WICHITA — It was about 10 minutes into the second half of Saturday afternoon’s Titan Classic Tournament Championship Game when the blue sky over Wichita was tarnished by a billowing plume of smoke from a large structure fire to the south.
That was right after the Emporia High boys soccer team had taken a 2-1 lead on Kapaun-Mt. Carmel at Wichita South High School.
Fifteen minutes later, the fire trucks had screamed by and the skies had gone back to solace.
The scoreboard reflected an inferno of activity, however.
During that stretch, the Crusaders had sizzled as well. Two goals less than a minute apart gave them the lead and two more just moments later gave them all the firepower they needed to hand Emporia its first loss of the season, 5-2.
Oh, if just one of the passing trucks could have stopped to cool the equally scorching Crusaders.
“I thought we did really well the first half,” EHS head coach Victor Ibarra said. “The second half, (in) the first 20 minutes, we were up 2-1 and I think (we lost) a little bit of composure. I told the guys I wanted to see how we were going to react to playing a very, very, very good team. A couple guys were trying to overdo some of their responsibilities and we got out of position and they have a very, very good kid up top. They basically play kickball. They kick it up top to him and they try to make it happen.”
It was the 19th minute in which Elijah Williams scored his 11th goal of the young season.
Kapaun knotted the score in the 34th minute of play.
“The guys need to know and understand we’re going to play them again later on in the year and this is good for us, (to) understand our weaknesses,” Ibarra said. “We had opportunities, I thought their goalie did excellent. He definitely stopped a lot of really good (shots) for us.”
In the 51st minute, Hector Hernandez won a lengthy battle up front, fighting for a pair of rebound opportunities before making good on his sixth goal of the year.
Williams and Hernandez have both scored in each of the Spartans’ first four contests.
Seven minutes later, Kapaun scored the equalizer and then took the lead again just 40 seconds after.
It added two more, in the 61st minute and the 65th.
The Spartans didn’t garner much offense after that point after a first half that saw E-High with more than a dozen shots, either just outside of the goal’s frame or into the keeper’s hands.
“We outshot them,” Ibarra said. “They (only) got to our goal six times I think and scored five.”
“Overall, I thought the guys did well, I’m proud of their effort. There’s only one guarantee in a season, it’s mistakes. We had a couple (today). I have no doubt (in our success) facing those guys 10 more times.”
EHS will be able to lick its wounds quickly, returning to Wichita on Tuesday for a rematch with Circle High School. It will be a rematch of the first round of the Titan Classic, a game that the Spartans won 16-0.