Andover Central Jaguar soccer survives scare from Great Bend Panthers in 5A playoffs

Kalon Fullerton
Andover Central boys' soccer after their win over Great Bend on Tuesday night.

ANDOVER, Kansas — The Andover Central Jaguars went into halftime of their second round playoff contest down, 1-0, against the Great Bend Panthers.

With another 40 left to play, and with their season on the line, Central would need their leaders to step up. And that’s exactly what happened.

Central got two goals from their senior leaders, Leo Wurths and Jared Cromly, to propel the Jags past the Panthers, 2-1, and into the next round.

It took almost the entire 80 minutes to do so. Great Bend took the lead in the fourth minute when Alex Galindo broke away from the Jags defense and sent a cool finish past the keeper and into the net. The Jags would make their possession count just after the second half started, with Wurths cushioning a cross into the box and sending it past the keeper in the 44th minute. Both teams saw opportunities to find the go ahead goal hit the post, and with less than two minutes to go, the game looked certain for overtime.

And then, with 1:42 left to play, a Great Bend foul gave Central the opportunity to find a late, late winner. Colby Wallace crossed it deep into the box, and Cromly ran behind the Panther defense to head it into the back of the net to keep the Jaguars’ season alive.

“It’s fun in the playoffs, and unfortunately we’re used to this, playoffs going to the wire.” Said Jaguars head coach Steven Huskey. “As a school, these guys have been around it, so we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”

And it wasn’t. The two teams were almost even in the stats, with Central leading the shots 6-5, and the two teams even in corner kicks. But in the playoffs, experience can prove key, and the Jaguars’ leaders stepped up when they needed it most.

“The first goal surprised us, and it took a while to score, but I think after we got that first one, we got it settled down.” Huskey said. “It really helps to have people who are able to finish in those crucial situations.”

With the win, Central will advance on to the next round. They will travel to Wichita to face Bishop Carroll on Thursday.

“It was a comeback victory, and those are hard to come by.” Huskey said. “And hopefully Thursday, we keep believing we’re in it the whole time.”