PLYMOUTH — More time might have made a difference, but as it ended Culver Academy’s #7 ranked Eagles fell just short of Marian’s #6 ranked Knights 4-3 in round one sectional action at Plymouth.
“Not the ideal way to go out. I think we believed we were going to go all the way because we had the quality,” said Academy coach Nathaniel King. “But sometimes soccer is a cruel game. These girls are upset because they felt like they had a chance to get to the final and win sectional.”
And but for the first ten minutes, it might have been.
Marian had three shots on goal in the first two minutes and Grace Weaver was able to hit two penalty kicks in the first seven minutes to give the Knights the difference in the game.
Nerves in the first half,” said King. “We started out a bit nervy and that set us back a little bit. After we composed ourselves and started playing our game that’s when the game evened up a little bit.”
Olivia White got in the scoring column for Marian at 27 minutes and then it evened up more than a little bit.
At the 17 minute mark, Sam Hazen hit a solid corner kick that Heather McNab was able to head home for the first Culver score that would start the momentum in the opposite direction.
In the opening minutes of the second half, the Lady Eagles would push in a goal that was called back for a foul in the box, but McNab followed it just one minute later driving home a penalty kick to make it 3-2.
Just minutes later McNab created another opportunity that was turned away by Marian keeper Adrienne Weyers which would slow the flurry of Academy pressure for the time being.
Weaver was able to find the back of the net again at the 25-minute mark in a controversial goal that would end the Knight scoring for the night.
McNab had a good look at the goal hit the crossbar with around seven minutes to play as Culver continued to push the issue.
“In that second half we won it 2-1,” said King. “I couldn’t be more proud of the girls. They left it on the field and that’s all I could ask for as a coach.”
“The momentum shifts when you get the goals,” he said of his team’s second-half resurgence. “Sammie Hazen was our left-back and was there specifically to deal with one of their players and we decided to move her up and that gave us a little more fluidity in our attack. We could connect the midfield to our forwards more and our energy, speed, belief after getting the goal kind of put them on the back foot.”
“(The game) became more direct and it was more about the second ball and it was just a matter of what team was going to take advantage of that and we just didn’t have enough time.”
The battle between McNab and Weaver would end in a draw as well with the Academy forward hitting a second penalty kick on the night for her third goal.
The win moves Marian on to the semi-final round on Thursday night to face Jimtown. The loss ends the Lady Eagles season at 9-4-1.