Danville's playoff parade ends in the rain

November 03, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

VERSAILLES - Their soccer season had come to an end, but there were many more raindrops than teardrops on the faces of the Danville girls.

Their hopes of reaching the state tournament were washed away in Tuesday afternoon's rain, but they were ready to look back with satisfaction on what they had accomplished and look ahead as well.

The Admirals were eliminated with a 2-0 loss to Woodford County in a sectional championship game.

"Even though we lost, there weren't that many tears," Danville coach Michael Lauer said. "I think they realized they really took it as far as they could."

Danville (16-4-1) went farther than any other area soccer team has gone before in the postseason, earning a spot as the smallest school among the final eight in the state playoffs.


"We had no clue we'd get this far," sophomore forward McKenzie McAfee said. "This is just a great accomplishment."

Knocking off No. 10 Woodford (19-2-2) would have been quite an accomplishment, but the Jackets made sure that didn't happen by scoring one goal in each half and keeping Danville from making more than a couple of serious advances on their goal.

"We probably had two chances," Lauer said.

Tough field conditions

The game was postponed on Monday. Tuesday's game was played in a continuous rain that turned the field into a quagmire. Footing was tenuous at best, and by the second half standing water meant that the players were making a splash with virtually every footstep.

"It definitely wasn't fun," Danville midfielder Morgan Young said. "The rain made it a lot harder. When you tried to go anywhere, the ball just stuck in the mud. It was a lot harder to get it up the field."

That became a real problem after Danville fell behind 2-0 and was forced to try to advance the ball quickly, something that just couldn't be done easily or accurately.

"As it became wetter, the ball died more," Lauer said. "I thought we were a little faster than they were on the wings, but we just couldn't get the ball up there, and when we did get it and tried to dribble the ball got caught up in our feet."

"The water stayed on the field, and the ball would just stop right there," McAfee added. "You'd slide before you even got close to it."

Senior goalkeeper Liz Ruth said things weren't any better on her end of the field.

"I couldn't move very well," Ruth said. "Every time I tried to go from side to side I would slip. It was really hard for us to actually gain control of the ball."

Woodford, which outshot the Admirals 23-2, got its first goal in the 34th minute, when Andi Wilhoit got free just inside the penalty box for an open shot that she sent past Ruth.

"When we gave up that first goal, that was just indecision on the part of our defense," Lauer said. "If we'd lost 1-0 on that, I think it would've been very disappointing for all of us."

Woodford scored a more decisive goal when Kelli German found the net in the 64th minute to give her team what proved to be a commanding lead.

Still, Lauer said he was pleased with the way his defense played against the toughest opponent Danville faced all season.

"Our defense, which has been kind of shutting people down, did a great job," he said. "They were under pressure the whole game."

Looking forward to next year

Now Lauer and the Danville players will look forward to trying to capitalize on this season's unexpected success.

"I think they will come back and want to really build on this," Lauer said. "Our goals this year were to have a winning record, win the district championship and maybe win the regional championship. I think next year one of our goals will be to be playing in November again. We do have talented players coming up and players who are already there.

"We know what the next level's all about now. I expect the girls will come back knowing what they're shooting for."

Danville's starting lineup included five sophomores and two freshmen, and a successful middle school team will bring more young talent into the program in 2005.

"I'm looking forward to next year," McAfee said. "We're going to miss our seniors, but we'll have some freshmen coming up who can help us."

Ruth said she believes she and her fellow seniors are leaving the program on solid footing.

"We've gotten farther this year than we've ever gotten, and we'll always remember how far we got," Ruth said. "In two or three years, this team may be going to the state like it's nothing."

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