It is a term reserved for the game of soccer. No other sport uses the term like soccer players do.
The West Holmes Lady Knights know all about being unlucky following their 3-2 district final loss to top-seeded Trio-Valley Scotties Thursday, Oct. 27 at Maysville High School.
After having dealt Maysville one of its tow defeats during the regular season in a 3-2 victory, West Holmes had every right to think that an 11-seed like themselves could compete with the top seed.
For the most part, they were right, but a ferocious attack after West Holmes took an early lead paved the way for what would eventually send the Lady Knights packing.
Whitney Miller continued her sensational year by smoking home the game’s first goal about 15 minutes in, and the underdog Lady Knights had slapped the Scotties in the face.
Typically we come out ready to play, but for some reason, we didn’t come out ready to play, and I truly, honestly don’t know why,” Scotties head coach Emily Reilly said. “It’s not like we won the first meeting against them. It took us 20 minutes to turn things around, but once we did we played a lot better soccer., and possessed the ball well throughout the rest of the game.“
Tri-Valley responded by attacking the goal like a hungry fox attacks a chicken house. In this case, it was a group of foxes, and playing the role of the chicken was West Holmes keeper Savannah Rogers.
For the final 25 minutes in the first half, Tri-Valley fired everything they had at the West Holmes senior keeper, and for a long time, Rogers was up to the task, making a number of sensational stops to keep her team in front.
But with 2:35 left in the half, the wolves finally crashed down the henhouse door and freshman Karsen Ross took a pass from Chloe Williams and drove it by a diving Rogers to tie the score.
The relentless Scotties attack continued, and then the unluckiest blow of the game occurred with a mere 12 ticks left in the half. Alizza Bonifield got loose down the left side of the field, and with time winding down, cranked up a shot that went firing toward the left side of the net. Rogers moved deftly that way and was in position to make a play, but a hustling Katy Vaccariello was also trying to make a play, and redirected the ball just enough that the shot went skipping past Rogers, who had no prayer of changing direction.
“Unlucky,” agreed West Holmes coach Brooke Mowrer. “That was two great players working so hard to make a play. It happens, but we never should have put them in that position in the first place. Sav came off the field at half feeling pretty low, but I told her that was not her fault at all. She was incredible tonight.”
A lead throughout the first half had suddenly developed into a 2-1 deficit at the half for the Lady Knights, and things were going to get worse before they got better.
West Holmes regrouped, and actually got off a pair of great shots on which the Scotties keeper made tremendous plays to keep her team ahead.
Moments later, Tri-Valley had a corner, and Rogers made a beautiful play on the nearly perfect kick, punching it out to the back side of the net, where it found the feet of Kylee Ritchie. Ritchie delivered a laser to the lower left corner, and with about eight people in the box, Rogers was completely blindsided by the kick, as it came out form behind the mass of bodies. Taylor Dye had a shot at knocking it away, but didn’t react in time, and Tri-Valley had a 3-1 lead.
We concentrate on keeping the ball at our feet and possession, and we moved the ball crisply,” Reilly said. “We had a ton of movement and got into a rhythm, and that is when good things happen for us.”
West Holmes needed to get to work, but another one of those unlucky moments struck with about 20 minutes to play, when high-scoring Ali Gilt took a monster kick right to the face, sending her sprawling. Gilt lay prone on the ground for some time before being helped from the field, and would not return. Now down their best scorer, West Holmes’ chances were fleeting, but a penalty on the Scotties with 15 minutes to play gave the Lady Knights a direct kick, and Natalie Parsons used her big leg to smack it into the top of the goal for a score to make it 3-2.
There was life, but West Holmes struggled to generate a lot of good offensive opportunities the rest of the way. Tri-Valley actually had a goal taken away after it scored off a corner, when one of the Scotties players shoved Rogers to gain an advantage.
As time ticked down, the talented Scotties simply never let West Holmes near the net.
Mowrer said the formula to get back to even was simple, but her team simply didn’t execute.
We needed to win the punts and kicks, and those 50-50 balls, and work from there, and we weren’t winning those,” Mowrer said. “We weren’t looking to build, we were just kicking balls, and that was when we get peppered with shots. We were kicking the ball up there, they were winning them and coming right back down our throat. We just didn’t possess the ball enough.”
The season comes to an end for West Holmes, and the team looked like anything but a team playing .500 soccer. After a rugged Ohio Cardinal Conference schedule, West Holmes entered the tournament and played extremely well.
Mowrer knew she had the talent to win, and this team really did feel it was more than capable of knocking off the top seeded Scotties.
“I told the girls coming in we had nothing to lose, we just need to relax and play the game we can play,” Mowrer said. “Because we had beaten them earlier this season, I felt like this could have been another win for us, except those few final minutes of the first half. Those were just killers.”
Mowrer said it is a tough way for the seniors to go out, and she added that all of the seniors on this year’s team were major contributors in the successful late-season run. That last game is always a tough one, and I fell for them.”
At the same time, Mowrer is equally excited about the talent the lady Knights have coming back. With plenty of youth and a large quality group of eighth graders ready to step in, there is ample reason to believe it will continue to be a program that will move forward with success.
They just hope they can avoid those unlucky situations that can rear their ugly head to send a team home at the end.