CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Northeast soccer coach Felipe Argueta couldn’t help but smile.
His varsity Eagles team had just lost a heartbreaking, season-ending game to Hendersonville 3-2 in the Region 5-AAA tournament semifinal, but Argueta could do nothing but smile and ponder what might have been.
Five times in the final 15 minutes his players had chances to tie the game, maybe win it, but were turned away by Hendersonville and goalkeeper Seth Good. Good would finish with 11 saves and his teammate, forward Darius Campbell, had two of the Commandos’ three goals as Hendersonville rallied from a 2-1 halftime deficit to advance to Thursday’s region championship game.
“Un juego bonito,” Argueta said in Spanish. “A beautiful game. That’s why we call it a beautiful game. It was a great game for us and we played a great opponent but it wasn’t meant to be. I’m so proud at how focused and intense our kids were and we left everything out on the field but we just couldn’t get one in the goal in the second half. We tried, but it just didn’t happen for us. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Northeast was led by a pair of goals from Aarin Buchanan in the first half. He nearly had a hat trick in the second but was stoned by Good with 13:08 left in the game. Buchanan took advantage of a misplayed ball from Hendersonville’s defense about 20 yards away from the net. His shot was deflected by a Commando player hustling back to thwart Buchanan’s attempt. Both players fell and Buchanan took another stab at the ball while lying on his side, but Good came up to cradle that shot in his midsection.
“I thought our defense was really tough in the final minutes of that game,” Hendersonville coach Russ Plummer said. “We made some mistakes as a team defensively in the game, but in the final 10 or 15 minutes, they stepped up. It’s win and advance at this point. You have to win and advance and we did that.”
Buchanan had another opportunity with about 10:19 left in the game after a high-arching pass was lofted in his direction as he stood 5 yards from the net. Good came out to meet Buchanan and got enough of his hand on the ball as Buchanan tried unsuccessfully to head it into the net.
But the best chance for Northeast to score came with 6:10 remaining in the game when Aric Buchanan pushed the attack with his team trailing. Aric kept the ball alive, essentially moving through Hendersonville’s midfield and back defenders as the ball bounced off Commando feet three times back to Aric Buchanan. But when the Eagles sophomore took his shot, Good stepped up for a diving save.
“The effort was there,” Argueta said. “The results were not. You’ve got to live it. If you give it everything you’ve got, you cannot be mad. We’re disappointed in the loss but we’re not disappointed in the season because it’s been a great year for us.”
But this season comes to a close for the Eagles (15-6-2) as Hendersonville (10-11) moves on to face rival Station Camp in the region title game Thursday. Both teams will play in the 3A sectional this weekend.
Hendersonville looked like a team on the ropes after the first half as Northeast held a 2-1 lead. Aarin Buchanan’s goal within the first minute of the game came off a corner kick. The ball hit a Hendersonville player’s knee, bounced off Aarin Buchanan’s chest and he stuck the ball in for a 1-0 lead.
Campbell returned the favor six minutes later as Northeast’s defenders were trying to clear the ball out near their goal. Campbell rifled a shot past Northeast goalie John Cooke to tie the game 1-1.
“I just found myself with the ball and took advantage,” Campbell said. “Northeast was trying to get it out and I was in the right place at the right time with a little bit of a clear path to take the shot. I thought I didn’t get my foot on it good enough but it went in.”
Aarin Buchanan broke that tie with less than a minute remaining in the first half on a counterattack. Buchanan beat his defender one-on-one and fired a shot that hit the left post and spun into the goal for a 2-1 lead.
But Hendersonville shook off that late first-half goal and scored within the first six minutes of the second half after Joey Plummer was tackled in the box setting up a penalty kick. His shot beat Cooke to the left as the Commandos tied the game at 2-2.
Campbell would break the tie with 21:49 left in the game after a throw in. He raced toward the ball, collected it and darted toward his right across the face of the goal. His shot, however, curved left as Cooke couldn’t change directions fast enough to stop it, giving Hendersonvile the go-ahead goal.
“I saw (Northeast) goalie leaning one way and so I tried to redirect the ball and it got through,” Campbell said. “I’m just glad it when in and we could get this win because it’s always tough to go on the road and beat a good team like Northeast.”
George Robinson. Prep writer. 245-0747. Twitter: @Cville_Sports.