By Max Goodwin
On Friday, May 28th at Swope Park Soccer Village, Rockhurst High School recaptured the Lacrosse Association of Kansas City Championship, beating cross-state rival and defending champion Shawnee Mission East, 17-6.
Rockhurst coach Tim Reidy had a good feeling during the start of the game when the stick of the Shawnee Mission East player broke and Rockhurst cleanly won the face off.
For the first 53 seconds of the game, Rockhurst possessed the ball before Andrew Finn wrapped around the right side of the Shawnee Mission East defense and charged straight towards the net unleashing a shot straight off the grass bouncing past the Shawnee Mission East goalkeeper for the first goal of the game.
“We win 95 percent of the time when we score first,” Reidy said.
The thundering reaction from the Rockhurst student section continued throughout the game as Rockhurst powered to a dominant 11 goal championship win in which they led the entire game.
The MVP award was given to senior goalkeeper Corbin Sollers, who was important for Rockhurst all season as the team allowed the fewest goals in the league, and the fewest goals any Rockhurst team has allowed in a season. Sollars contributed the stat to his defense in front of him.
“We all wanted it equally,” Sollars said.
Sollars missed the early regular season game against Shawnee Mission East with a broken hand. The Hawklets lost that game 12-9. It was a boost of confidence going into the championship to have the Sollars back in front of the net as Rockhurst entered the LAKC championship.
“We weren’t healthy, we were inexperienced, we were young,” Reidy said looking back to the earlier matchup, “but we knew if we saw them again that we were going to put up a pretty good fight. This time we came out guns blazing.”
Even as Sollars returned mid-season from the injured hand, Reidy said they weren’t sure what they would get from him. What they got was Sollars saving 81 percent of shots in the last 7 games of the year, including playoffs where Rockhurst outscored opponents 56-12.
It had been four years since Rockhurst last won the league championship in 2017.
Just a decade ago, the Lacrosse Association of Kansas City, or LAKC as it’s come to be known, was formed. At the time, Rockhurst had never been anything but dominant in lacrosse against competitors in the Kansas City area. In fact, the Hawklets had never lost to a local competitor.
Rockhurst was the first school in the city to start a lacrosse program. Mark McGilley and Dr. Dan Connelly are both fathers who moved to Kansas City decades ago, they played lacrosse as kids and wanted their sons to play as well. The Rockhurst lacrosse team was started and for a decade was the only team in the city.
The competition has improved around the city. But the first team to ever beat Rockhurst was Shawnee Mission East in 2012. It began a unique rivalry between two schools that are just a few miles apart with kids who have often grown up in the same neighborhoods playing together.
“For almost 20 years, no one in the city had beaten us,” Rockhurst coach Tim Reidy said. “Shawnee Mission East has had a great run the last ten years. They’ve taken their program up to the next level. They’re our biggest competitor, our biggest challenge.”
Shawnee Mission East had won the last two LAKC championships in 2018 and 2019. Just one other school has its name on the LAKC trophy with Rockhurst and Shawnee Mission East mostly trading it back and forth. Many of the kids on both teams played on club teams together when they were younger.
“The kids you’re playing, they’re your neighbors, they’re family friends,” Rockhurst senior Jack Scanlon said of the rivalry with Shawnee Mission East, “It’s almost like brotherly love wanting to just beat each other so bad.”
This year Rockhurst has bragging rights in this ‘sibling’ rivalry and more than that the Hawklets are champions of Kansas City.