April 21--The Saint Mary Spires' men's lacrosse team knew heading into Thursday's Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) tournament semifinal against Ottawa, that a win would only help their case for a potential at-large bid to the NAIA national finals.
Of course winning a league title and booking automatic passage on their home field at Charles J. Berkel Memorial Stadium, would be sweet as well and against the No. 3 seeded Ottawa Braves, the Spires moved one step closer to that opportunity.
Mac Morgan and Cory Wunderlich each scored four goals and Matthew Waeckerle added two tallies and 10 ground balls to key the Spires to a 13-9 win and into Saturday's 4 p.m. final against the nation's top-ranked team, No. 1 seeded Missouri Valley, a 21-5 winner over Benedictine in the other semifinal.
"It's a great feeling, especially after last year when we didn't have the season that we really wanted and knew we were a lot better," Waeckerle said. "We put a lot of great work in the offseason and we have a lot of phenomenal freshmen stepping into roles and it's a great team win for us to get to the championship game.
"Our offense just got rolling (early) and that was the theme of the season, that when we start rolling it's hard to stop us. We just found a groove and just rolled with it."
The Spires (9-7) came out fast and jumped out to a 7-1 lead after the first quarter, but from there, the talented Braves (6-7) battled back to pull within two goals on a few occasions late before the hosts took care of business.
"Obviously we came out strong with a strong start to the game and Ottawa is a good team," USM head coach Matt Kimsey said. "You know it's going to be back-and-forth and come back with their own run. I thought we answered really well. It's a physical and intense game.
"(Playing a tough semifinal) is important. This time of year is win and advance. We have a day break to rest the legs a little bit. Missouri Valley is a great team."
Billy Dineen's goal with 2:24 left accounted for the final tally and put the clamps down on any Ottawa rally to push the Spires forward.
"It got a little rough in the second quarter and second half, but we came through," Wunderlich said. "We didn't play composed and tried to rush it. They were pressuring a little bit on a couple of our attack men. We knew they were gunning for us and we just had to come out and fight harder than the last game and every game we've ever played. That's what we did."
Pioneer girls' soccer falls flat
Shawnee Mission South came out fast and strong and the Leavenworth High girls' soccer team never caught up in a 10-0 home defeat on Thursday night.
"Until our attitudes and mind set changes, our results will stay the same," LVHS head coach Derek Wilson said. "Until we have the desire to win, the results will stay the same. Until we decide we want to take this thing seriously, the results will stay the same. Our issues go far beyond the pitch."
Leavenworth (3-8, 1-5) trailed 8-0 at the intermission and fell behind in the game's first three minutes.
Lions' baseball falls against Olathe North
Despite a complete game effort by senior pitcher Josh Robinson, the Lansing High baseball team, fell 5-4 on Thursday against Olathe North at Lawrence High School as part of the River City Baseball Festival.
North scored all its runs in the third innings to take an early 5-0 lead, before Robinson took control and the Lansing offense began to click, socring twice in both the fourth and sixth frames.
Dryden Dalbey led the Lansing offense with eight hits.
Lansing (3-4) will play Shawnee Mission West at 3:45 Saturday back at Lawrence Hgh School.
Leavenworth High (7-2) plays Blue Valley Northwest at 8:15 p.m. that day at KU's baseball field.
For more updates check Saturday's print edition of the Leavenworth Times or vist us online.
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