Girls soccer: Second-ranked Circle soccer overwhelms Wichita Collegiate

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Circle's Lanna Chase (right) and Kenzi Gillispie (left) celebrate with a huge after Chase scored the game's opening goal in Thursday's 2-0 win over Wichita Collegiate at Circle High School.

TOWANDA, Kansas—Teams are always on a mission but the Circle Lady Thunderbirds showed in the 2-0 win they are marching towards something bigger than a single match win.

The Lady T-Birds shut out the Spartans, putting a stamp on an already impressive season. Currently, Circle is on a five-game clean sheet, spurred on the back line of five games. 

It helps the there is a lot of experience helping the Lady T-birds to their success. They currently start six seniors.

“it’s a huge help to have girls coming on with experience so we don’t’ have to completely reset like some programs had to do this year,” Circle Head Coach Andrew Stauffer said. 

A handful of those girls play together all summer through their club team. So, their chemistry was built in the weeks and months before this season. 

“It’s really important that we communicate well,” senior Brooklyn Hunter said. “because we’ve been playing together so long, we’re able to use our experience to help out the underclassmen.”

One of the summer teammates for Hunter and a handful of the players is sophomore goalkeeper, Hannah Stipp. Before this season, she had never seen a varsity pitch but due to her having plenty of summer club experience, she came in ready to go.

She’s held every team scoreless and hasn’t had to bark too many orders as keepers are often the most vocal leaders on the pitch. 

I’m usually pretty loud and talking a majority of the game [in club matches],” Stipp said. “It’s kind of hard to be yelling when you really don’t have a reason to because everyone is already doing it.”

Circle didn’t need any vocal coaching from their keeper as they were locked in loaded in a game where it could have been easy to overlook after the tough win over Buhler. Instead, the Lady T-Birds honed in on the victory for the whole 80 minutes. 

They wasted little time finding the net early in the match. Brooklyn Hunter sent a screaming corner into the back of the box to an open Lanna Chase for the header and the early lead. 

“Set pieces are one of our strong suits,” Chase said. “She can put the ball right where we need it and then you have me and Kenzi [Gillispie] who can put a head on it.”

Circle (5-0) followed the goal up 25 minutes later when freshman Kilar Gillispie caught a mistake by the Collegiate backline and made them pay. The Collegiate defender, instead of letting the keeper clean up the ball, deflected it right into the path of Gillispie for the easy open netter. 

That would be all Circle would need. 

Circle’s back line shut down anything the Spartans tried to do. They would only allow a first half shot and shut down Collegiate’s on corner opportunity.

Hard to believe Circle has already played a third of the season. They will power through three matches in four days, all away from the friendly confines of Circle High School. 

“We’ll have some recovery time and then we’ll get work on some stuff to prepare for next week,” Stauffer said. 

The win puts Circle at 5-0 and off to the best start in school history. For such a young program, less than 20 years old, they are setting new goals and aiming for new heights already.

“Ourgoal this season is to win as many as possible,” Hunter said. “We want to be as successful as we possibly can and that means coming out every single game like it’s our last.”

HALF: Circle 2-0. Shots: Circle 13, Wichita Collegiate 1. Corners: Circle 2, Collegiate 1. Saves: Circle Stipp 1;0—1; WCS: Reece 2;3—5

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.