Royals Fall Short In Semi-Finals
By Blake Belden, staff writer
Jun 2, 2014, 13:51
Prince George walks off the field after a crushing loss after Meadowbrook converted its 17th penalty kick.
CHESTERFIELD — Nearly three hours after the game began, Jerron Ramsey stepped up to the goalie's box with a steadfast look of determination on his face. It was the 17th penalty kick for the Prince George Royals, and a blocked shot meant the end of the season for the boys varsity soccer team.
The scene was tense during the Conference 5A semi-final matchup against Meadowbrook on Thursday, and each team wanted to march on for a chance at a conference title and earn a spot in the regional tournament. And following 80 hard fought minutes, two rounds of overtime and 16 nail biting penalty kicks, it looked as if both teams were still just as hungry to stay alive.
With the game on the line, Ramsey sprinted forward and blasted a powerful kick at the goal, but Monarch goalie Bernardo Mendez made an athletic dive and rejected the effort, solidifying a 2-1 Meadowbrook victory.
"It was a tough game. That what's happens when you get into the playoffs. Everybody tightens up...The lower seeds know that 'hey, we still have a shot to keep playing.' And [for] the higher seeds, it's not a walk in the park," remarked head coach Tom Harrison of the two-seeded Royals.
Meadowbrook took the first lead in the final minutes of the first half when Myles Smith had an open angle at the goal and forced a sliding kick that squeaked past Logan Chadek and rolled into the back of the net. Prince George closed out the half with heightened energy, but they didn't score and it was 1-0 going into halftime.
"Tonight I think we got a slow start. Meadowbrook got on us. We had to play catch up. I thought that once we scored a goal the momentum went our way...[But] we just couldn't quite break them down," Harrison said after the loss on Thursday.
It wasn't until there were under 15 minutes left in the second half that the Royals answered back with a goal of their own. Kam Smith hurled a high inbound pass over Meadowbrook, where Darion Mealing deftly jumped up and headed the ball past Mendez, sprinted by him and strolled the ball into the goal to tie up the score 1-1.
At this point, the Royals were fired up and continued to push on offensively, earning a multitude of scoring opportunities which they just couldn't get to pay off.
"I give all the credit to Meadowbrook, because once we scored that second goal and we got the momentum, I thought that we could really maybe exploit that. They had a couple of guys cramping up, they lost [a player], and I think everything was kind of moving in our direction, but we just...All season long we've been able to capitalize on something like that, and we just weren't able to do it tonight," Harrison said.
And despite the continued intensity through the end of the game, several huge saves by Chadek and plenty of well placed penalty kicks from deep in the Prince George roster, it wasn't enough to walk off with a victory.
Harrison admitted that they had driven expectations of taking the season further, and that it was difficult trying to find the right thing to say to his team following Thursday's loss.
"It was hard to tell them anything. I'm just as broke up as they are. And I told them that really there's nothing you can say when you get a loss like this. But that eventually they would be able to put that in the past, and they'd be able to reflect on how good of a season they had," Harrison said.
Although the Royals ended the season with two consecutive losses, they proved their dominance on the field with an overall 13-3-1 record, six of those shutouts, and outscored their opponents 52-15.
Harrison attributed much of his team's success to their relentless commitment on and off the field, a characteristic that he hopes will continue to exist through future seasons.
"Coaches say this about their teams all the time, but we had such a great team. The work ethic. They got where they did, they won these games because of the work ethic. And the [seniors] set a great example for all the other class men, and everybody fell into it. From...Darion [Mealing] all the way down to the last player on the bench, everybody worked hard every day," Harrison said.
Although the Royals will be graduating nearly 10 seniors this year, the team has set the bar high and will continue to chase a title in seasons to come.