District Rival Male Defeats Tigers in Close Match
On Tuesday evening the St. X Soccer Team lost to Male High School in a close 1-0 match that was filled with missed opportunities and tension on both ends of the field. Male, a team inside of the Tigers district, is an opponent the Tigers had been looking forward to playing for a while, hoping to preserve a perfect record against district foes. Unfortunately, the Tigers did not receive the outcome they wanted, as they fell to the Bulldogs in a hard fought battle.
From the onset of the match, bodies flew everywhere up and down the field, as both teams understood the importance of the district competition. Through the opening 35 minutes, the ball found itself in the deep ends of both sides of the field, but no team was able to finish scoring opportunities.
The Tiger defense “held their ground and really played an overall good game,” said senior defenseman and captain Neal McKiernan. It was just one lapse by the defense that gave the Bulldogs the only goal they would need in the closing seconds of the first half.
The Tigers were down at half, but the game was still in a very manageable position for St. X heading into the second set of 40 minutes. Just as previous games had gone for the Tigers, the team came out of halftime with new energy and focus. Great through-balls began to be played over the heads of the Male defense, giving St. X multiple fast break opportunities. In the 48th minute, the Tigers fed a strong cross through the Male goalie box and it was met with the foot of a Tiger, but the ball trickled just wide of the net, keeping St. X off the board.
More opportunities followed in the 70th minute, including a chance from inside the box from senior midfielder Clay Brown. The captain settled the ball, took a step, and fired the shot, only to miss the goal by inches. Moments later in the 72nd, McKiernan tracked a Tiger cross and redirected it with his head, once again just missing the goal.
The quality of St. X’s play drastically improved in the second half, but the offense couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities.
The game ended in a highly controversial fashion, as the Tigers rushed up the field in the closing seconds, looking for one last opportunity. The ball was hit up into the air, but a Male defenseman hit the ball away with his hand intentionally. The Tigers should have gotten a free kick from a good scoring range, but the Bulldog defender’s act wasted the remaining time in the game. St. X was denied the free kick it deserved, and the game ended with the Tiger sideline in disgusted frustration.
The Tiger offense “really started to create good chances in the box” during the second half, explained McKiernan. “We just couldn’t score on the chances we had.”
“We just need to play a simple game and find the best opportunities for shots on goal,” McKiernan finished. “We sometimes get too excited in the box and end up brushing passes (instead of sticking it in the back of the net).”
The Tigers face Ballard on Wednesday night in their second game in as many days. St. X hopes to continue the effort shown in the second half of the Male game in order to score a victory over the Bruins. Game time is set for 7:00 PM at Ballard.