Royals Fall In Finale, But Remain Confident
By Blake Belden, staff writer
May 23, 2014, 09:40
Darion Mealing forced a header into the net off a high lob corner kick from Winn Watson.
Although heads hung heavy for the Prince George Royals varsity boys as they walked off the soccer field on Wednesday night, things are not entirely bleak for the number-two seeded team who only conceded two losses in the season and earned a bye heading into the conference tournament next week.
The regular-season ending 2-1 loss to the Clover Hill Cavaliers on Wednesday night may have been the determinant for who gets the top spot in the conference, but the 13-2-1 Royals, who hadn't lost a game since March 27, are not devoid of talent or opportunity.
Although it's never desirable to finish the regular season with a loss, head coach Tom Harrison stressed that they need to let the loss sink in, and return to practice hungry for a conference title.
"We're going to have fix some things and we're just going to have to work hard. To win the tournament starts tomorrow," Harrison said following the loss on Wednesday night.
The loss began as a competitive stalemate where both teams remained scoreless for the first 25 minutes of the game.
Then, Cavalier Trevor Lamb kicked a crossover bullet from left field into the right side of the net with 14 minutes remaining in the first half.
Although the goal momentarily took some steam from Prince George's engines, this lasted only temporarily.
Less than five minutes following Clover Hill's first goal, the Royals retaliated on a corner kick opportunity when Winn Watson dished a high lob ball directly above the center of the goalie's box and Darion Mealing launched off the ground forcing a header directly into the back of the net.
"We finally started to get a little momentum, and then Darion does what Darion does, and put one in with authority. And I thought we finished the half out strong. So I was pretty encouraged with that," Harrison said.
The goal tied up the score at 1-1 and demonstrated Prince George's ability to exercise comeback poise and confidence when the game is not in their favor, leveling the game into halftime.
However, this composure was rattled early in the second half when Lamb scored a second goal, sneaking the ball through Chadek's hands into the right corner of the net.
"Logan has had a great year, so for it to get between his legs like that...it's not something we expect, and two, it's tough for him because he takes that personally," Harrison said, before underlining some "phenomenal" saves that Chadek made following Clover Hill's second goal.
Lamb had a good look at a hat trick for the Cavaliers blasting the ball point blank at the goal, where Chadek deflected it with his hands and the ball ricocheted off the right post back toward the goal and he grabbed it in midair, inches from being another tally on the scoreboard.
The Royals were visibly stunned by the quick deficit in the first minute of the second half, spending the next 20 minutes or so trying to recover, but remaining primarily on the defensive end of the field.
In light of the Royals' defensive efforts to keep Clover Hill from scoring for the rest of the half, they hesitated to showcase an offensive retaliation until it was too late, and Clover Hill's one-point lead was enough to take the victory when the whistles blew.
Although Prince George may have given up two goals in the loss, their defense exudes a ceaseless tenacity treading great lengths of the field to attack opponents and get the ball out of play.
With Chadek at the helm creating athletic maneuvers to block shot attempts, the Royals are backed by a strong wall consisting of Cleo Lee, Chris Harrell, Hunter Bartlett and Jerron Ramsey.
"They are just remarkable back there," Harrison said of their efforts all season long.
Prince George only allowed a baker's dozen across the goal line in 16 games this season, and outscored their opponents by a total 51-13 overall.
They didn't allow any goals in six of those games, including a 0-0 tie against Meadowbrook.
Harrison said that a smothering defense will be the most important aspect of play going into the conference tournament.
Prince George received a bye for earning the two seed, and will face the winner of the Meadowbrook-L.C. Bird matchup, on Wednesday.
This was the first time in 13 years that the Royals beat Thomas Dale two consecutive times in a single season.