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Louisburg 4, Paola 1

PAOLA – Rivalry contests are supposed to be this way.

They are supposed to be high-intensity, times where things get a little chippy between the two sides and when neither team wants to back down. That was the case Thursday when the Louisburg boys soccer team made the short trek to Paola.

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Louisburg and Paola were tied at halftime in what was an important contest for the Wildcats. They were currently on a two-game losing streak and were approaching unchartered territory.

“I told them we have never lost three in a row since I started coaching, so I didn’t want it to start now,” Louisburg coach Kyle Conley said.

The Wildcats listened well as they came out with three second half goals, en route to a 4-1 victory over the Panthers and thus got themselves back on the winning track.

Junior forward Brock Bila gave the lift the Wildcats were looking for as he finished with a hat trick. Bila scored a goal in the first half and two more in the second half to help Louisburg pull away.

“Brock is a kid that has been up and down,” Conley said. “He will play good one week and then he is beating himself up another week when things aren’t going as well. It is good to see him have some clean runs and have some really good finishes. He was really active and that helped a lot. He busts his butt and does his job. He had a good practice before this and was hitting the ball really well, so I was hoping it was coming and it definitely did.”

Defender Kyle Allen sends the ball away in the first half of Thursday’s match against Paola.

Although Louisburg (7-3) won by three goals, it wasn’t easy as the Wildcats competed in a high-spirited game from the start and did so with a short bench. Starter Christian Scholtz and reserve David Holiday had to sit out with an injury.

It was a bench that got even shorter as they game wore on as starting defender Kyle Allen had to leave on a cart with an injury in the second half.

Not only were the Wildcats short-handed, but so were the officials. The game had to be officiated with just two referees, instead of the usual three, which left both teams perplexed on calls throughout the match.

“Our bench was short to start the game, and then when Kyle went down, it got really short,” Conley said. “When he got hurt, I think our guys responded and stepped up a little bit. We are always talking about the next man up. We are short on guys. We are missing a starter and one of our first guys off the bench and we are trying to fill some voids. They just played hard and they did their job.

“The kids did minimal complaining on really difficult officiating. Whenever you have two officials in the varsity match, the outcome is never going to be productive when they can’t move as much.”

Bila got Louisburg off to a good start as he gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead on goal about 15 minutes into the match. It appeared the Wildcats were going to add on to that lead as they had several chances on goal.

Senior Grant Ryals (11) takes the ball away from a Paola player with the help of teammate Landon Johnson on Thursday at Paola High School.

Senior Raistlin Brewer had two shots that were close to finding the back of the net, but one was saved by the Paola goalie and another shot went just wide of the post.

Instead of going into halftime with a lead, Louisburg gave up a late goal to Paola’s Ryan Wokutch with 29 seconds left in the first half.

However, the Wildcats turned up the pressure in the second half as Bila notched his second goal in the opening minutes, then senior Jarod Rose found the back of the net to give Louisburg a 3-1 lead.

Bila sealed the win with six minutes left in the match for this third goal and the Wildcats didn’t look back.

In between all the second half scoring, the Panthers gave Louisburg a scare or two themselves as they put on several shots on goal. Senior defender Kris Light kicked the ball away near the goal line, while goalie Ambrose Stefan made a jump save to knock a shot away on what looked to be a sure Paola goal. It was one of several saves on the night for Stefan.

Louisburg goalie Ambose Stefan scoops up a shot as a Paola player makes a run at the goal.

“Ambrose made a fantastic save on that ball,” Conley said. “It was a really good hit, he read it well and got to it and made an unbelieveable save. The backs did alright. We are struggling with our pressure cover. We got a little anxious and just watched the ball and shifted instead of being where we needed to be. At the same time, Kris had a big save off the line as well. They worked so hard though and hopefully we will continue to get better.”