The 80th minute was unkind to Newark all season.
The Wildcats hoped to change their fortunes Wednesday in the Division I district tournament opener. Instead, two opportunities during the final minute just missed and Newark was eliminated, falling to visiting Franklin Heights 4-3.
“We’ve lost two games in the last three seconds this year, and they should have been ties for sure,” Wildcat coach Jon Quackenbush said. “We’ve probably had two or three other games that we think we should’ve won when we had more shots or possession, but it is a cruel game at times.”
This match certainly will go into the “should’ve won” category. Newark (2-12-3) scored twice in the first 10 minutes, and the Wildcats led 2-1 at halftime.
Ryan Drumm goal’s off of a beautiful give-and-go from Kyle Baker gave Newark a 3-1 lead with 32:25 left in regulation. But the Falcons quickly responded, scoring twice in the next four minutes.
“Really, we had most of the possession,” Quackenbush said. “They were getting us on counter attacks, and they were quite good at it, to be honest.”
The tiebreaking goal came just after the midway point of the second half. Franklin Heights (4-10-2) made its shots count as it had just five on goal. Adan Ibrahim scored three of the goals.
“They stayed in there and worked their butts off,” Falcon coach Kalo Khim said. “It was just a little bit of coaching but more determination than anything.”
The Wildcats had several scoring chances during the second half. Newark had an indirect kick from inside the box it couldn’t cash in, and Logan Anderson had a couple shots just miss. Andrew Lehoe’s header went high as the final seconds ticked off.
The Wildcats had 21 shots, including 13 on goal. Freshmen River Schneider and Drew Harvey pressed the Franklin Heights defense much of the first half, and Anderson had a shot narrowly go above the crossbar.
“They play in the (Ohio Capital Conference) as well as we do, and they had a similar record to us,” Quackenbush said. “I told the kids they were a very similar team to us. I expected it to be a game like this.”
Baker opened Newark’s scoring as he dribbled through the center of the defense and scored 9:08 into the first half. Anderson then scored off a Baker assist 31 seconds later.
“It is tough to see (the seniors) lose on their last game at home because they have certainly worked hard over the last three years and given us great effort since I’ve been here,” Quackenbush said. “They are a great example for our younger kids at how hard they have to work and the commitment they need to have.”