Class lead squad, leave behind huge hole
It was the glaring problem with the team and the shining strength, the undeniable characteristic that set the Eudora soccer team apart from most teams it played.
The Cardinals had 13 seniors in 2007, a tremendous number for any varsity team and a large portion of the entire program's 39 players.
There was a great advantage -- in the class were the team's most skilled players, those that helped Eudora to a playoff win for the second consecutive season.
And they made life difficult at times -- enduring their third coach in as many seasons, there wasn't time to learn the basics again, and there wasn't time for younger players to get varsity minutes.
In the end, that massive senior class was for the better, Eudora coach Gunar Harmon said, and it's largely responsible for whatever success the team had in 2007.
"These are 18-year-old kids well on their way to being adults, and they handled themselves accordingly," Harmon said. "It was difficult because I was their third coach in four years. That was another adjustment for them.
"For the most part, having that many seniors made it easy to coach."
Harmon said he saw the season's best moments in two different ways.
First there were the small things.
"The small moments -- the things that don't show up on the score sheet," he said, "players who you've asked to do something and finally get it."
As for the season's best larger-scale moments, Harmon pointed to several different games. The squad swept Paola, beating the Panthers 4-1 both times they met.
It also played Gardner Edgerton tough, and held Frontier League champions Louisburg without a goal for the first 70 minutes.
The Cardinals gave a talented Baldwin team led by one of the best players in the state, Dustin Schiller, a run for its money in a 5-3 loss.
And, of course, Eudora won a playoff game. The Cardinals beat Tonganoxie, avenging a 4-2 loss from earlier in the season. The win came in thrilling fashion as Eudora first let a 2-1 lead slip away in the opening minutes of the second half, then yanked it back as senior Logan Hartpence hammered in two of his career-best three goals.
"The second half of the Tonganoxie game was really good. Just going down the field you had the sense we could score at any moment," Harmon said. "There was a very strong current of confidence in that game and I really enjoyed that."
It was Hartpence's first hat trick, and a big part of his team-leading nine goals.
Seniors Anthony Barta and Isaac Welsh each scored six goals. Matt Jump, a sophomore, scored once and is the only Cardinals returning with any goals.
Senior Connor Hartpence, Logan's twin brother, scored three goals en route to winning the team's most valuable player honor.
He was fourth on the goals-scored chart, but brought much more to the team than a powerful leg, Harmon said.
"He cared about what happened on the field. He cares about the way soccer was played and he's a fan of the game," Harmon said. "He was one of those players who allowed you to let the player to control the game. I could leave it up to him and he was the fireplug.
"He did very well playing the positions we asked him to play. That's going to be the hard part to replace."
Hartpence started in the midfield, moved to a wing, back again and finally back on defense.
"If I'd have asked him to play goalie, I'm sure he would have done that too," Harmon said.
Eudora's season ended Oct. 23 in a 7-0 loss to the region's top seed, Basehor-Linwood.