Eagles fade late against defending 1A champs
Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
As the Lanesville soccer team made the odyssey to Seymour on Oct. 4, the Eagles knew they had one of the most challenging roads of any team as the Indiana High School Athletic Association state tournament began. Kicking off sectional 46 at Trinity Lutheran, the Eagles had to feel both a sense of dread and opportunity as their first-round foe came in the imposing form of the defending Class 1A state champion and third-ranked Providence.
Not only did the Eagles have to deal with a perennial soccer power such as the Pioneers, but they had to do so with a short-handed roster that missed three starters.
“We were bummed to have three starters and a role off the bench out, but I still had hope,” Eagles’ skipper Bradey Sanders said. “I preached all last week that anything can happen in sectional; that’s where upsets tend to happen. With this being the best team Lanesville has seen in several years, we remained confident and wanted to leave it all out there for our seniors.”
Despite a depleted defensive lineup, the Eagles did well to contain a Pioneers’ offense that had apparently struggled toward the end of the regular season. Led by the superb defensive effort of senior goalkeeper John Morgan, who recorded many of his 21 saves in the period, the Eagles came close to shutting out the Pioneers for the entire first half.
That changed with just over four minutes to go in the first half when Pioneers’ freshman Nathan Coker fired a ball past Morgan in front of the goal to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
“Our defense played great. With several key players out, we had to make a quick adjustment in formation to play a defensive game. Everybody was communicating very well and contained their marks very well, forcing them to the outside,” Sanders said. “When the kids came off at halftime, they were shocked that we held Providence to one goal. Even though we were down by one and tired, we felt like we had momentum going into the second half.”
The effort exerted on the defensive end by the Eagles in the first half began to take its toll when the second half began as the Pioneers’ offense came alive. Pioneers’ juniors Luke Jorden and Dylan Boggs led the charge as they both notched goals to put the Pioneers up 3-0.
Part of the Eagles’ second-half collapse came in the 60th minute when freshman Hadley Crosier went down with a head injury, causing her to be taken out for the remainder of the contest.
The Eagles’ offense struggled to get the ball near the Pioneers’ net, recording only one shot on goal courtesy of senior striker Griffen Lucas. Morgan and Lucas are just two of a group of seniors who saw their high school careers come to an end at the hands of the Pioneers.
“The biggest difference between the two halves was our energy level,” Sanders said. “Though we kept our efforts up, we just got tired. I could tell everybody was losing focus and legs were moving slower. I was proud of our kids for their performance and thought we played a very respectable game.”
The Pioneers advanced to face Henryville in the sectional semifinals today (Wednesday). The Hornets got to the semifinals thanks to a 10-1 beatdown over Christian Academy of Indiana in the second contest Monday.