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TMP, Hays High play to draw

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

The celebratory fist Thomas More Prep-Marian girls' soccer coach Darryl Wellbrock sent toward the heavens at the final buzzer had been a long time coming.

For the first time in the nine-year history of the TMP soccer programs -- boys or girls -- Thursday's game against Hays High School did not end in a loss to the Indians.

Instead, the teams played to their first draw, a 0-0 double overtime grinder at the FHSU Soccer Stadium.

"To play them to a tie is a very big accomplishment," Wellbrock said. "I know a tie isn't a win, but to me it's a win. The emotions for me are probably as high or higher than the girls. I don't know how to explain it."

Amid the postgame tears for fallen teammate Raegan Billinger -- who had her freshman season end when she broke her leg in the first half -- was the pride of a young Monarch team that had just reached a long sought-after dream.

TMP came close in the season opener against Hays High on March 27, a 1-0 overtime loss for the Monarchs at HHS Field. And even though the Indians once again shut down the TMP offense on Thursday, the Monarchs own defense was able to match them through the extra 20 minutes of play.

"There was a lot of pressure on the defense, but I think the midfielders really helped out and got back and took a lot of it off us," TMP sophomore defender Tyra Younie said. "It was awesome. It was getting pretty physical, but we fought through that and we played with different players, so that was rough. But we got it together and that was great."

For an Indian team used to running through the Monarchs in years past, Thursday's draw was a humbling experience. Hays High had its share of chances, more than doubling up TMP on shots, but many of those were easy saves for TMP freshman goalkeeper Deonna Wellbrock.

Hays High presumably had the fresher legs, having not played since Monday, a 5-0 win at Great Bend. TMP was coming off a 6-0 win the night before over Wichita Independent, and didn't get back to Hays until well after 10 p.m. Wednesday.

While the TMP offense did have a few opportunities as well, especially in the second half with the wind in its favor, the Hays High defense, led by senior defender Reagan Kaiser, quickly shut down that threat.

Whatever got past Kaiser was soon absorbed by sophomore goalie Brittany Dinkel.

"Both teams played well defensively. It didn't seem like either team could break through the other's defense," Hays High coach Saul Hernandez said. "Our team wasn't happy with the tie. To us it's a loss. The way I saw them celebrate, it's kind of better to let this happen to us now after getting that long winning streak."

Hays High, now 9-2-1, entered Thursday's game with TMP having won seven straight. The Indians will look to rebound when they host Garden City at 4 p.m. Monday at the HHS Field.

TMP will bring a 4-2-1 record into its next game, which is 4 p.m. Monday against Great Bend at the Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex. The only other regular season games left on the Monarchs' schedule are at Wichita Word of Life on May 12 and at Wichita-North on May 15.

Considering TMP has played a combined 160 regulation minutes with Hays High to a 0-0 draw this season, the Monarchs are entering their stretch run with the expectation to win out. Regionals begin May 19, and Wellbrock believes his players can use Thursday's game as a springboard into what they hope will be the first regionals win in program history.

"You probably can't see the snowball effect as much as I can. But it's coming. I've been very patient and I've been patient with them for a long time," Wellbrock said. "But my job is to make the girls better for when we get to regionals. Some of our goals are to go one round for sure in regionals and I think we got a pretty good crack at that. We will see. But I think the girls got their goals set higher than that."