Parkway Central coach Brian Adam has had good Colts teams, but this year’s team had one thing that set it apart from the rest.
“We just had the result,” Adam said.
Parkway Central is fresh off winning its first-ever state championship in boys soccer. The Colts scored a 1-0 victory over Washington to capture the Class 3 state title.
“As far as this playoff run versus previous teams, that will be analyzed by the coaching staff for years,” Adam said. “We did have an amazing combination of demanding and supportive players.”
Being called state champions is something Adam is still coming to grips with.
“Very few teams start the season expecting to play in November,” Adam said. “We all want to. Some of us think we can, and most know how special it is.”
It certainly didn’t look like a state championship team at first. The Colts lost their first three games, falling to Parkway South, Holt and Summit.
“I was prepared for the possibility of starting 0-3. Those are three good teams to start the season,” Adam said. “We had numerous fixable items that added up to losses.”
There were adjustments to players’ positions and to the way the team played overall, Adam said, part of the growing pains of getting established in a new season.
No one panicked at the win-less start, Adam said.
“Steady ships turn calmly. We made little adjustments,” Adam said. “We believed early on in each other and just agreed that we would only accept each others best efforts.”
With the playoff run, Parkway Central played 30 games.
“Every once in a while, we would pause and look back at the past few games and think, ‘Wow, that went pretty well,’” Adam said. “By the time we were in October, it was like the guys either forgot how to lose or really hated losing. We went for a long streak without a loss and there were some games in there that would have been really easy to lose.”
In the quarterfinals, the Colts scored a 2-1 win over Fort Zumwalt South in two overtimes.
“Before the district tournament, we talked about what a run to the finals would take from each person and how much we wanted to experience it together, and then we never mentioned it again,” Adam said. “We only ever spoke about the next step.”
Senior midfielder Cameron Baird scored on a penalty kick in the second half, giving the Colts a 1-0 lead.
Going into the second overtime, Adams didn’t make any changes. Rather, he gave them a scenario:
“I told them to take a few minutes off. Take a mental break and just enjoy each other’s company. With 1 minute left, we huddled up, arm-in-arm, and we visualized. I told them to imagine. They will have the ball on their foot, they are running as fast as they can, and they have to, because there is a defender on their back who wants the ball. You look up and see the keeper coming off his line, charging you. Everyone is screaming and you are stressed. You know it is time to shoot. Slow down. You have time. Take a breath. Look past the keeper. See the net. Pass the ball into the net. You don’t need to shoot, just pass. Watch the ball hit the goal, turn to the crowd and get ready, because you will get dog piled.”
Junior forward Will Peacock put that vision into reality and scored the game-winning goal.
“They had played a quality game against a tough opponent and booked their ticket to the Final Four,” Adam said.
In the semifinal, the Colts shut out Republic 3-0.
“That may have been the best our team looked all year long,” Adam noted.
That win led Parkway Central to play for the state title against Washington.
“The crowd was so loud so that I had to just trust to the players on the field and try to send any message out that we could with the subs,” Adam said. “Washington seemed to be executing their game plan… We were creating our chances, but we just weren’t finishing.”
Then, Junior midfielder Adam Burnett hit a corner kick to senior forward Matt Deay, who scored in the 54th minute.
It was the most beautiful goal Adam said he has ever seen, “To a coach in the final, every goal your team scores is pretty.”
A foul was called right in front of the Colts’ bench in Parkway Central’s favor with about 10 seconds left.
“Every player looked at each other realizing that was it. We didn’t even need to put the ball in play, so there was this unspoken realization as a lot of us looked at each other,” Adam said. “That 10-second countdown was excellent.”
Adams said he and his team soaked up the scene.
The Colts will graduate 11 seniors from the team.
Five starting players will return, along with two underclassmen who played frequently as substitutes.
“This has been a very a very special memory for all of us,” Adam said.