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TMP soccer a win away from quarterfinals





One of the goals set by the Thomas More Prep-Marian girls' soccer team entering the season was to win its Class 4-1A regional semifinal game and advance to the program's first regional championship game.

As it turned out, the Monarchs never got that opportunity but still managed to meet their goal.

"This group of girls decided we are just going to keep winning games and here we come along and get a bye in the first round because we are seeded third," TMP soccer coach Darryl Wellbrock said. "It's kind of exceeded my expectations. That's good though. They set their goals for the season and they've made it."

TMP finished a surprisingly successful regular season with a 6-2-2 record and earned a first-round bye in the South Central Regional No. 3, which counts as a seventh win for the Monarchs. This put them directly into Thursday's regional championship game, where they will be looking to advance to the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history.

To get there, TMP will have to get past Rose Hill High School (9-7-1), which defeated a three-win Mulvane team 4-0 on Monday in its regional semifinal. Game time is 4 p.m. Thursday at the Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex.

"Now they are setting their goals higher than that, to win this next one and go to the quarterfinals," Wellbrock said of his team. "We'll see what they have in store for Thursday's game. I think we will be in it. I don't know much about Rose Hill. We haven't really played any teams they've played."

The Rockets' best win is arguably a 1-0 victory over Andover High School on April 1 in the Goddard/Bishop Carroll Tournament. Andover, a Class 5A school, is 10-6-1 and will play top seed Bishop Carroll in its regional championship game Thursday.

TMP hasn't lost since a 5-0 defeat at Garden City High School on April 15, its fourth game of the season. The Monarchs are 4-0-2 after, with the ties coming against Hays High School and Wichita North.

A win Thursday would make the Monarchs just one of eight teams remaining with a shot at the 4-1A title, the state tournament being held in Kansas City.

And just as important as a shot at state, Wellbrock knows the experience of even playing for a regional title could have a great impact on the further development of the team, which is predominantly freshmen and sophomores.

"Hopefully all the girls come back and improve for next season. They are setting goals higher than I think I anticipated this early," Wellbrock said. "They are driving this right now and doing a great job of it. It's coming from the girls and that makes a better team than any coach can get out of them at practice. They are wanting to do this and are very serious about doing this."