Circle soccer scores four in second half to win North Cup Finale

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Brooklyn Hunter is embraced by multiple teammates after her goal in the 71st minute in the 5-1 win over Mulvane on Saturday afternoon in the North Cup Finals.

WICHITA, Kansas—Some people when you hit them in the mouth, they fold and it's an easy way to put away a lesser opponent.

That's not Circle soccer.

After Mulvane gave Circle their first deficit of the season, it only took eight minutes for the Lady Thunderbirds to respond and from that point on, it was a complete domination from a much better side in Circle.

"That was a weird feeling," Circle Head Coach Andrew Stauffer said. "We made halftime adjustments and the second half was our half."

When the dust had settled, Circle won their 15th match of the year and the annual North Cup with the 5-1 win over ninth-ranked Mulvane.

The win also secured the Lady Thunderbirds the top seed in the upcoming Class 4A Playoffs. 

"It's been fun this season," Lanna Chase said. "We're excited we have No. 1 because we couldn't show people how good we were last year."

It was bit different from what Circle had been used to in this tournament. Mulvane used the wind in the first half to find opportunities in the attacking third. The Wildcats found advantage by when Karlie Kanaga slipped one by Circle's Hannah Stipp after a free kick. 

It didn't take long for Circle to score, they put three shots quickly on net but it was a nice run from senior Kenzi Gillispie, who scored her fourth goal of the tournament. She took three players into the box, sending it by the Mulvane keeper before being taken down by a defender for the equalizer.

Circle turned up the pressure some more, putting more shots on goal heading into the break.

When Chase found a rebound on a free kick, putting it home for the 2-1 advantage in the 50th minute, it felt as if the game had flipped any momentum from Mulvane, to the Lady T-Bird side.

Brooklyn Hunter peppered the net from outside the box, trying to score an upper 90 goal, a goal in the upper corners of the net, and it wouldn't be until the 71st minute when she would finally get one to go home. It was her 19th goal of the season.

Then, the flood gates opened up.

Gillispie found a header from Hunter on a corner kick, similar to what happened on Thursday for her fifth and final goal of the tournament. Then Carsyn Soto, who every team had been trying to deny the through ball for all tournament, finally found one and put it home safely for the 5-1 lead. Three goals in less than eight minutes. 

"We used the wind to our advantage, for sure," Stauffer said. "They were dropping off on us and giving us space. We took advantage."

Circle remains the only unbeaten team in Kansas high school soccer. There are teams like Maize have a tie but no losses, the Lady T-Birds remain the only team with zero losses and zero draws.

Saturday's game could be a preview of what's to come as both teams will try it again on Monday in Mulvane. That one is for the league title. 

Kick off is schedule for 6:30 p.m. at Wildcats Stadium in Mulane. Even with a loss, Circle still will win a share of the league title.

"Want want to win it," Chase said. "We'll come out and play hard as we always do."

The Circle Lady Thunderbirds celebrate by biting their medals after winning the North Cup on Saturday, May 8 at Wichita North High School in Wichita, Kansas.

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.