For a quick and quiet moment, Saturday, Sept. 12 started off as a very good day for the Hiland Lady Hawks soccer team, when it hosted Western Reserve Academy in Berlin.
The Hiland Lady Hawks reserve team got the day started on the right foot with a 3-0 win at the alternate field at Berlin Mennonite, but when the girls took the field at Hiland High School for their 5 p.m. game, they found a very different team awaiting them.
“It was amazing, the difference between their varsity and reserve team,” said Hiland coach Jeremy Kauffman.
Western Reserve scored twice in the early going, giving them a 2-0 cushion that held until the half. But with Hiland having possession to begin the second half, Brandi Raber sped through the WRA defense, dropped the ball over the Sarah Menuez, and Menuez punched in a goal just 13 seconds into the half to cut the deficit in half at 2-1.
That was the way the score remained until just under 20 minutes to play, when WRA’s Chloe Beggs struck a winner that slipped into the goal just under the cross bar over a leaping Beth Boyles, giving the Academy a 3-1 lead.
The Pioneers musty have enjoyed that feeling, because they did it again less than two minutes later, putting this one out of reach.
A fifth WRA goal late, that squirted past Boyles from the left sideline, finished off the scoring and sent the Lady Hawks to 3-3-1 on the year.
“We are not good enough yet to play a team of that caliber, and there is no shame in losing a game like that to them,” said Kauffman.
While the final score didn’t irk Kauffman, he said he was disappointed with his team’s lack of fight following the Menuez goal that put them back in the game.
The Pioneers took control after that and controlled the tempo of the game.
He did have high praise for the Pioneers, a team he said is as good as any they will face this season. He noted that the goals they were scoring were coming from far out, on shots that few high school girls players can really connect on.
“They scored a few really good goals, and Beth didn’t have much of a chance, but we have to play better defense so they don’t have that kind of space to shoot from where they did,” said Kauffman. “But most teams are never going to hit shots from that far out, and not four of them.”
If playing great competition truly does make a team better, then the Lady Hawks certainly improved on this day, despite the final score.