MINFORD – It wasn’t that Southeastern didn’t have chances in their Division III girls soccer sectional game Tuesday.
It was simply that every time they did have a good chance, Minford had the perfect counterpunch. As a result, the Falcons ended the Panthers’ season with a 2-1 win.
After playing to a 1-1 draw in the first half, the Panthers came out with a great blend of urgency and steadiness to put themselves in position for three scoring tries. The ball didn’t reach the back of the goal on any of those tries, but it was a far cry from the flat, hesitant bunch that played the beginning of the game.
“The long stretch between the last game and game today wasn’t helpful,” said SE coach Allison Nagle, whose team last played Oct. 8 in a win at Portsmouth West. “We came out real flat and that really hurt us. It wasn’t the only reason we didn’t win, but it didn’t help.”
SE’s goal was scored by sophomore McKinley Mitten, who tapped home a corner try at 14 minutes elapsed in the first half. The goal was perfectly timed, as a lapse on defense by the Panthers allowed a goal within the first two minutes. Panthers’ keeper Katie Mohler, a senior, helped the Panthers with two big saves right after that to keep the score at 1-0 before Mitten’s goal.
With 27 minutes left, a long ball played by the Falcons ended up with the attacker, while fighting off one SE defender, lofting her shot just up and over the reach of Mohler to put the Falcons up 2-1.
But the fight wasn’t out of SE with 27 minutes left. Three separate tries within the last 16 minutes of the game were either blocked in the box, or saved by the keeper and the Falcons had enough to advance to the next round of play.
For Nagle, the loss was tough to take.
“I was hoping we would punch one in there at the end,” she said. “We so many opportunities that I thought we would get one. If we would have maintained our intensity, I feel like it would be a different outcome. But, we were there and we couldn’t just punch it.”
The Panthers, in just their second season as a girls varsity program, finish at 10-4-3. They graduate just two seniors and the heart of their team will return as seniors and juniors next season.
“If we could start a new season tomorrow, these girls would be ready to go,” said Nagle. “The season met my expectations … maybe exceeded my expectations. I wanted to come out of here with a “W” but I am very proud of the way our team played this year.”
Minford moves on to play the Lynchburg Clay/Westfall winner next Tuesday at Waverly High School.