Eagles burned by heat, Hilltoppers’ offensive surge
Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
While the northeast was being assaulted by hurricane Henri, the Lanesville soccer team probably wished for anything close to cooling rain instead of a heat index around 100 degrees on Monday, Aug. 23. With the sun bearing down from a clear sky, the Eagles needed little time to warm up while waiting for Shawe Memorial to arrive.
The heat, alongside the sound of DJ Big Jim’s music blaring in the background, and the smell of savory pork from Q Pine BBQ’s food trailer, filled the atmosphere when the Hilltoppers finally arrived minutes before the scheduled 5:30 p.m. start time. When the delayed match finally began, the Eagles looked similar to the team that defeated New Albany’s junior varsity team 3-1 the previous Friday with their aggression offensively. It wasn’t halfway through the first half when the Eagles struck first with Maddux Miller and Griffin Lucas notching back-to-back goals within a minute of each other to grab an early 2-0 edge.
At first, momentum appeared to be completely in the Eagles’ talons. That wouldn’t last underneath the savage sun as the Hilltoppers took advantage of a deteriorating Eagles’ defense by roaring back with four unanswered goals, closing the first half with a sudden 4-2 edge.
“On offense, we had pretty good looks and good shots,” senior goalkeeper John Morgan said, “but defensively we couldn’t get around (Shawe), couldn’t keep up with them. They just kept getting to the ball.”
The second half proved no better for the Eagles, as a combination of the heat, controversial officiating and a still-active Hilltoppers’ offense resulted in three more goals, inflating the deficit to a 7-2 final.
When asked about whether the heat was a factor in the Eagles’ collapse, head coach Bradey Sanders acknowledged that it was a possibility, yet he did not use it to justify their poor play.
“The heat played a big factor; it got to our heads early, but, at the same time, the other team dealt with the same thing,” Sanders said. “I think we honestly just got a little lazy. Coming into the game, they just got overconfident, and I think we beat ourselves.”
The season is still young for the Eagles (1-2), who look to bounce back Thursday, Aug. 26, when they continue their homestand by hosting Scottsburg at 5:30 p.m. The heat will also return that day with a reported heat index near 106 degrees throughout the week.