The Dux and Maroons varsity soccer teams met in Holland for the third time, with a District Final berth at stake. The two teams split during the regular season, needing overtime in each game to determine a winner. The Dux took the first game 3-2, while the Maroons avenged that loss with a 1-0 win later in the season.
The Dux started strong and grabbed the early momentum in the opening 5 minutes, possessing and moving the ball quite well through the midfield, generating two early chances, but were unable to break through. All that changed after an HC corner kick. A misclear at the near post resulted in the ball bouncing out to the top of the 18 yard box in the Dux defensive end. HC pounced on the rebound and fired a shot through traffic that beat Ryleigh Farrell low and to her right. “Like many team sports, soccer is a game of momentum. HC relies heavily on their ability to generate scoring chances on set pieces, we knew that coming in. There was definitely a momentum change after they scored that early goal – very unfortunate for us. That play gave them more confidence and allowed them to play more aggressively. We were a bit deflated and it took us off our game for the next 15-20 minutes.” HC led 1-0 at the half.
However, the Dux would claw their way back in the match when Sam Hecht found some space in behind the HC defense. Phoebe LaCroix played a nice ball through the midfield that ended up at Hecht’s feet. Hecht used her speed to get by the last defender, before poking the ball under the arms of the HC keeper and into the back of the net. “After Sam’s goal, our play improved and we started moving the ball with more confidence offensively.” The momentum swung back in the Dux favor, but it wouldn’t last.
HC used a string of set pieces to score 3 goals in a span of 8 minutes to put the game out of reach. The first of the three goals came off of another misclear on a corner kick, this time at the far post. “Their second goal was a heart breaker and took all the wind out of our sails. Our heads dropped and we never really recovered our confidence. It was unfortunate for us because we had the first touch and were in the right position, but HC was a bit quicker to react.”
The second goal of the three came off of an unfortunate deflection after HC played a short corner. The original shot from the top of the box caromed off the back of another HC player. Farrell was leaning one way, but the ball went the other way. The final goal came off of a throw in, when the Dux defensive line got caught in no man’s land and the ball was slipped between the two center backs.
Makenna Anderson got the Dux back within two goals, after Gabby Campa played a ball into her feet near the top of the 18 yard box. Anderson used some quick footwork with the ball to weave between two HC defenders before firing a right footed blast into the back of the net.
“HC played a more complete game than we did, and definitely earned the right to play for a district title. We didn’t execute particularly well offensively tonight, and that is tough because we have been playing well the past couple of weeks. We didn’t play with the same confidence and composure, especially after giving up the first goal, and that impacted the game. Despite all of that, I am extremely proud of our team this season. The individual commitment and contributions of every member of our team helped push our program to new heights and experience new levels of success. It’s always hard to lose your final game, especially for our seniors. The reality of playing their final game hit them pretty hard tonight after the game, and that is really tough. Hopefully with time, our kids will come to realize that they can walk with their heads held high, knowing that they left a part of themselves on the field. Together, we can look back on this season and be proud of our accomplishments – both individually and collectively. Through triumph and personal tragedy, our team has shown passion, compassion, humor, resiliency, trust and a genuine commitment and love for one another. We are – and always will be – United, Never Divided!”
The Dux end their season with a record 13 wins, and finish the year 13-6-2.