The Cougar soccer team saw its season come to a heartbreaking end Wednesday evening as Butler County scored a goal in the last two minutes of play to give them a 2-1 victory in the opening round of the 11th District Tournament, being played at Butler County.
The game had originally been scheduled to be played on Tuesday, but the torrential rains that day caused officials to move it back a day. Even so, the field conditions on an already poor surface were nearly unplayable. Unfortunately, those conditions played a part in the game-winning goal.
Butler County had the best of things in the first half, putting pressure on Cougar goal keeper Brady Whobrey. The Cougar keeper was knocked to the ground a couple of different times in the first half, but the head official saw no reason to call a foul, though Cougar coach Kenny Fukuhara vehemently disagreed.
The Cougars had a good opportunity in the 29th minute of play when senior Jack Davis ripped a low liner toward the Bear goal, only to see their keeper, senior Austin Burden, turn it away.
The Bears got on the board first in the 35th minute. Working the ball deep down the Cougar left side, sophomore Omar Lopez was unmarked as he brought the ball in toward the goal. Still unchecked, Lopez unleashed a line drive that Whobrey had no chance of stopping as it rippled the back of the net.
In the final minute of the first half, Davis had another strike stopped by Burden, and Whobrey came up with a sliding save to keep the score at 1-0 as the teams went into the halftime break.
The Cougars began to get the best of the play as the second half got underway, getting good pressure on the Bear goal. In the 55th minute, Davis brought the ball down the right side ahead of his defender and sent a sizzling shot from about 12 yards out that Burden deflected away. Both Wyatt Schultz and Isaac Yearns had opportunities right in front of the net, but neither could find pay-dirt.
A couple of minutes later, Davis nearly connected with Trenton Godby on a pass that would have put Godby in alone on Burden, but the pass was just a bit too strong, and Burden was able to snatch it away.
The Cougars were awarded a corner kick in the 62nd minute and the cross into the box went right to freshman Matthew Haycraft, unmarked about 10 yards in front of the goal. But as Haycraft tried to head the ball into the goal, his foot slipped in the mud and the ball squirted harmlessly away.
The Cougar pressure finally paid off with a goal in the 68th minute of play. Trying to clear the ball in front of the Bear goal, Burden was whistled for illegally picking up a pass from a teammate and the Cougars were awarded an indirect free kick from about 15 yards out.
Haycraft took the free kick and just touched a ball to Davis, who sent a whistling liner at Burden. The Bear goalie was able to deflect the shot, but it trickled to Godby, all alone at the goal line, and he calmly flicked it into the net with the side of his foot to tie things at 1-1.
With the Cougar fans and the Cougars on the sidelines screaming with enthusiasm, the Cougars on the field tried for the goal that would put them in front.
With a little more than two minutes left, Schultz had a good opportunity, but his shot from the right side was just wide and went into the netting at the side of the goal.
Then, with a little over a minute left in regulation, the Bears got the winning goal. Lopez took the ball just outside the 18-yard box, took a dribble just inside the box and sent a low, skidding shot toward the goal. Whobrey seemed to be in position for the stop, but lost his footing in the mud hole in front of the Cougar goal and skidded onto his side. The ball then took a short hop over the sprawled-out Cougar keeper and the Bears began celebrating their win.
The Cougars finish the season with a record of 2-16-2, while the Bears improved to 10-7 and moved into Thursday’s final against Meade County.