Thursday, October 8, 2009
Lady Pats end season
The Marshall Academy Lady Patriots wrapped up their soccer season last week with three close losses.
MA fell 2-0 at Heritage Academy and then lost 3-0 and 2-0 decisions to River Oaks, La., one of the top teams in the state.
Coach Lance McGregor said the effort versus Heritage was amazing.
“We played a really solid game,” he said.
Heritage struck first with three minutes left in the first half.
“We were on the attack and one of their players intercepted the pass and took it down the sideline,” McGregor said. “Sara (Walker) stuck with her the entire time. But we got a bit guilty of ball watching and didn’t get back on defense, and their girl crossed it and it was deflected in the corner of the goal. This was the only real letdown we had.”
The Lady Pats had a chance to tie in the second half and M.C. Hutchens “made a pretty shot,” he said. But the Heritage goalie just happened to be in the right place and got just enough of it to knock it down.
Heritage scored again with three minutes left in the match.
“That goal was totally on me,” McGregor said. “I had Megan (Isbell) release and Sara play up, so we were thin on defense and they hit a nice shot. The thing is, being down 1-0 with under five to go, you have to start taking more chances to get the game back to even.
“The loss of Amanda Rhea (to injury) took a big toll on us, however, we had several girls step up and fill new roles for us.”
The Marshall girls then traveled to Indianola Thursday to battle a talented River Oaks squad in a doubleheader.
“Coming into the game, they had outscored their opponents something like 41-2 this season,” he said.
The Lady Patriots played the Lady Mustangs scoreless until about five minutes left in the first half.
“They finally found the net on a ball that took a tough hop on (goalie) Kristin Mynatt,” McGregor said. “We kept our heads up and continued to play them strongly and never slacked up on our effort.”
River Oaks scored two more goals late in the game to take the 3-0 win.
“I believe their previous low score of the year was six goals, so that number alone speaks for the way our defense played,” he said.
“Just the amount of heart shown on the field made me so proud to be a part of who these girls are. It’s just a great testament to them to be able to compete with a team like River Oaks. I was tremendously proud of the way our girls competed.
“Sarah Cunningham took her game to a whole new level and played like the player I believed she could be. Also playing strong on defense were Ali Hutchens, Sara Walker, Megan Isbell and Natalee Mitchell.”
The MA defense was even better in the nightcap.
“In the second game our defense came out even stronger than the first and allowed six less shots on goal,” he said.
It looked as if the Lady Patriots and Lady Mustangs were going to the half scoreless; however, with less than 30 seconds left, MA was called for a hand ball.
“We were a little late setting up our wall and were a bit too far away, but their girl hit the top corner on her shot from just above the penalty box,” McGregor said.
“To open up the second half, we had a mistake on defense and mishandled a ball and allowed them to get a shot off that put them up 2-0.
“We could have quit right there but the ladies stepped up their game and the defense was on lockdown the rest of the game.”
He said Claire Liddy, M.C. Hutchens, Rachel Cole and Lauralee Fant were working well with the ball but River Oaks would always step up and stop the scoring threats.
McGregor said a 2-0 loss is still a loss but it was also against a team that is the favorite to win a state championship.
“I’m just so very proud of all of these girls for going out fighting,” he said. “I told the girls they did something twice in one day that no other team had done all year, we played the Lady Mustangs close.”
He loses six seniors – Natalee Mitchell, Kristin Mynatt, Sarah Cunningham, Ali Hutchens, Sara Walker and Rachel Cole.
McGregor had this message for his seniors – “A coach is not supposed to become emotionally attached, but with you it is impossible not to. You’ve given me and this team so much this year and you will truly be missed, and welcome back anytime. I can’t help but to shed tears not only because you will be missed, but also because I’m so happy for who you’ve all become. The world is about to get six amazing girls. Thank you.”
He is excited about the future of the MA program.
“I really believe we can model our team much like River Oaks in the next couple years and compete at the level they do,” McGregor said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication but we have some building blocks in place. We have a core to build around.”
Ali Hutchens was named to the all-star squad and Hutchens and Walker made the all-division team.
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