DUNLAP — McMinn Central’s soccer season came to an end Tuesday after a 2-0 loss at Sequatchie County in the Region 4-AA semifinals.
There were a few tears shed after the game, but Central Coach Travis Tuggle said the players had nothing to be ashamed of, noting that sometimes games just don’t go the way that is hoped for. He said he was proud of their effort.
Tuggle noted that the Chargerettes got off to a bit of a slow start and that their passing wasn’t was accurate as it needed to be early on, but that his team played much better in the second half and, in fact, was the more dangerous team in the second 40 minutes.
“Our final ball, our final pass, we didn’t connect well,” Tuggle said. “We didn’t pass well in the first half, but we defended really well. I think their goal was a prayer from 20 yards out.”
The game was physical from the start with each team earning cards early and the rough play continued for most of the game.
Central had one player receive her second yellow 35 minutes into the game and Coach Travis Tuggle was given two yellows and sent off after protesting a foul midway through the second half.
The first incident involved Central senior Kaylyn Knox and both she and Sequatchie’s player were given yellow cards. Then, about 35 minutes into the game, Knox received her second yellow and was sent off. That meant the Chargerettes had to play the rest of the game a player down.
“It was spirited,” Tuggle said. “It was a physical game. It got out of control a couple of times. They got out of control a few times and we got out of control a few times. That’s unfortunate in a knockout game that the control of the game was not there. I hate it, but we didn’t lose because of officiating. We lost because we didn’t make good passes.”
Initially, Knox’s red card had a positive affect as the Chargeretts seemed to push a little harder after that. Central controlled the second half, but couldn’t get the goal it needed. Tuggle noted that because they were a player down they had to run more to cover the same amount of space.
“I think it motivated us to work a little harder and be more urgent,” Tuggle said. “That’s something I thought was missing in the first 30 minutes or so. And then we started stepping to the ball better and I think we outworked them in the second half when we had the bulk of the possession and the bulk of the shots.
“We did what we could to try to win the game, but when you are down a player it just takes the wind out of everybody’s sails.”
Central finished the season 8-10-1. Tuggle said the Chargerettes had a good year and he is appreciative of the effort given by seniors Macy Parker, Knox and Lydia Mobley.
“Through adversity we finished really strong this season,” Tuggle said. “We had some players that were hurt. We are not very deep. These girls, especially in the last 40 minutes, just dug deep and found another gear. It’s promising because we are losing three key seniors, three starters, but we have a lot of youth. The three seniors were just immeasurably important. They’ve devoted a lot of time to being part of being Central soccer and I had the good fortune of coaching half of their high school careers. I really enjoyed watching them play.”
Neither team created dangerous chances early, but then the Lady Indians struck gold with a long-distance shot to go up 1-0 just 13 minutes into the game.
“The ball got knocked back to them and we didn’t close in quick enough,” Tuggle said. “They have a couple of girls that can shoot from distance and one of those scored from about 20 yards away.”
Then the game turned physical. The first pair of yellow cards came 27 minutes into the game. Then, in the 38th minute, Knox received her second yellow and was sent off.
“It doesn’t help to go down a player 35 minutes into the game, one of your key players, on a foul that I thought both players were tussling with each other, and the other girl was on a yellow too,” Tuggle said. “I wouldn’t have had a problem if both had been sent off or neither had been sent off.”
Another yellow card was issued just before the half – to which team wasn’t clear – and the first period ended with Central behind just 1-0 despite only two shots on goal.
The game continued to be a testy affair in the second half and Parker was given a yellow on a play that Tuggle didn’t think warranted a card midway through the second period. His protest resulted in a pair of yellow cards and he was sent off, meaning assistant coach Cody Bull coached the rest of the game.
Central fired a shot with 22:50 left to play off a free kick that was high and another shot, also off a free kick after a Sequatchie foul, was just a little high. In between those shots, Central goalie Stonie Fox made a save.
Central had a few more shots as the Chargerettes possessed the ball more in the second half and created more chances. But most of the shots went wide or high or were saved by Sequatchie’s keeper.
Fox made a diving save for Central with 8:34 left to play that kept the Chargerettes in the game. Then the post got in the way with 6:56 to play as the Lady Indians just missed the game-clinching goal.
Sequatchie got the clinching goal, however, less than a minute later to go up 2-0 and send the Lady Indians to the Region title game where they will meet East Hamilton.
“Sequatchie has a good team,” Tuggle said. “East Hamilton has a very good team also and it will be an interesting region championship.”
Central finished with more shots than Sequatchie but only had three shots on goal while the Lady Indians had seven. Fox made eight saves for the Chargerettes.