By MICHAEL CHILDERS, CJ Correspondent
Somerset came into the 12th Region Boys Soccer Tournament looking to make some noise after having one of the best records in the entire region over the course of the entire regular season.
The Briar Jumpers’ stay in the regional tournament would not be as kind as the regular season was, as long-time rival Danville came away with a 1-0 victory after winning an overtime shootout PK battle (5-4) on Monday evening at Boyle County High School.
Just a month earlier, Somerset had broke a 10-year string of losses to Danville with a 7-1 win over the Ads at Clara Morrow Field in the 12th Region All “A” Finals. But Somerset found out on Monday night that they were playing a different version of the Admirals.
“(Since the last time we played them) Danville has added on about four athletes who had quit football to play soccer,” Somerset head coach Steve Wallace said. “Those four athletes aren’t great soccer players, but they are good athletes. Those four helped out a lot in with Danville putting pressure on us.”
“In that earlier game, we scored early and that really took a lot of pressure off of us,” Wallace continued. “On Monday night, the longer the game went without us scoring the more we started pressing. Then we got out of our game plan and started doing things we didn’t need to do.”
“Danville had a great strategy of putting guys in behind the ball and they played their defense deep,” Wallace concluded. “We needed to play more of a possession game and wait for good opportunities. We outshot Danville by about 15 shots and you would think that would be good enough to win a game, but credit Danville for defensively sequestering everything we did. We had 16 corners we didn’t put in and just looking at the game stats on paper, it looks like we should have won big. But if you don’t put the ball in the net you can’t win the game.”
Danville found their way into the regional tournament after upsetting Lincoln County a week ago in the 45th District Boys Soccer Tournament. The Admirals, who came into the postseason with the second fewest wins (four) in the entire region, brought an end to the Jumpers’ season on Monday, bringing an end to their stellar season.
After 80 minutes of scheduled soccer and a 10-minute overtime, both clubs would have to go to a penalty kick shootout to settle a winner in the opening round game.
Danville grabbed a 2-1 lead in the shootout after Daniel McAllister and Corey Staber made their shots for Danville, while Kevin Heurmann made his shot and Carlos Canella missed.
The Jumpers would tie things up at 2-2 after Mowser Amarkhail found the nets, while the Admirals missed their turn.
Somerset’s Nick Henry and Austin Hill both converted on their opportunities, and so did Danville’s Ben McAllister and Hayden Boyd. After each pair of players made their shots for their respective teams, the score was knotted up at 4-4.
After the Jumpers’ Cole Smith missed on his turn, Danville’s Jacob Rankin snuck a shot past the Somerset goal keeper to give his team a 5-4 penalty kick win. With the penalty kick win, the Admirals earned a 1-0 victory for the match.
“We even felt the pressure on the shootout PKs, because we were still pressing and we had two players, who are usually automatic, hit the post and miss PKs," Wallace said. "When you go to a shootout with any team it pretty much levels the field. We needed to take care of the game in the first 80 minutes and not be in that (shootout) situation.”
With the victory over the Jumpers, Danville, now 5-13-2, earned themselves a spot in the semifinal round, where they will square off with West Jessamine. The West Jessamine Colts punched their tickets to the next round after claiming a 2-1 victory over the Southwestern Warriors.
Somerset finishes the year with an overall record of 15-5-2 – record-wise their third best in program history. The Jumpers claimed a 12th Region All “A” Classic title and another 47th District championship over the course of the 2013 season.
“I hated this loss for our seniors because we had a really nice season and we went out with a loss that we thought we could win, but it happens,” Wallace explained. “I put a lot of this loss on me because I did not get us to think calm. Also, I think Jake Pierce being out of the line-up Monday night hurt us because he is a very calming factor for us.”
Follow Michael Childers on Twitter: @GetChili22