Circle Lady Thunderbirds' soccer win first ever league title

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
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.

MULVANE, KANSAS - Hannah Stipp came out of her box more than she probably would have wanted but she made it count.

The Sophomore goalkeeper came out beyond the half circle of the penalty area and punched a loose ball away and hurried back to the net. With an encroaching Karlie Kanaga, that saved the match and kept an unbeaten season alive as Circle beat Mulvane 2-1 to secure their first ever league championship.

With the win, Circle is the undisputed AVCTL-III/IV league champion, beating out McPherson by a game, in which the Lady Thunderbirds won 2-1 in Towanda. 

Circle is now 16-0 on the season.

For two teams who had only played 48 hours before, you could tell there was some intensity all throughout the 80 minutes and it was Mulvane who found the first score of the night when Kanaga took a wonderful pass from Emily Huffman to get behind the Circle backline, a rarity this season, and put it by Stipp for the 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute.

After Mulvane took the 1-0 lead into the break, the Lady T-Birds waited little time to equalize when Kenzi Gillispie scored on a Brooklyn Hunter corner kick, a play that has become a staple over the last couple of weeks. The senior comes crashing in from the backside and leaps over the defenders for the header. She’s been deadly with it, scoring her third goal on the play in as many matches.

Ava Wiggins caught a nice cross into the box from Carsyn Soto for the go ahead goal in the 56th minute.

That’s all Circle would need.

They defended and controlled possession, keep the ball across midfield and into Mulvane territory for much of the second half. Outside of the scare in the match’s final minute, the Lady T-Birds showed why they are the only unbeaten team in the state of Kansas.

With the win, Circle will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s Class 4A playoffs that start on the 20th. They will receive a bye in the first round and await the winner of No. 8 vs. No. 9 match up on Thursday, May 20 at Circle High School.

If Circle wins that match, they would host a state quarterfinal match up at home on Tuesday, May 25 against the lowest seeded team remaining.

If they win those two matches, they would advance to the Class 4A state tournament at Stryker Stadium on Friday, May 28 and Saturday, May 29 for the championship.

Almost all of the bracket remains in the air with multiple matches remaining. We will provide a complete bracket on Saturday, May 15 when they are finalized by KSHSAA.

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