Everything about The Classical Academy’s 1-0 boys' soccer loss to Faith Christian on Friday night made the sting all the more unbearable for the Titans.
The history that preceded the loss, the round that it came in, the sudden inability of the Titans’ high-powered offense to score and, most of all, the manner in which the Eagles scored the one goal that eliminated 3A’s top seed on its home field – it all came together to make for one depressing scene.
“I’m disappointed that this will be my last memory on this field,” TCA senior defender Clark Mourning said. “This will be the last game I play. It’s hard.”
The two sides offered differing accounts of the game’s goal, a breakaway for Faith Christian’s Liam Noone.
“We got a ball through the middle, just a long ball actually, I wasn’t expecting anything to come of it,” Noone said. “I just try to hustle every play. As I was coming down the defender was in front of me. I was trying to get around him and he tripped over his own legs. I was trying to keep my hands off of him. He tripped for some reason, so the ball was in front of me and I heard the ref say, 'Play on,' and I just took my chance.”
TCA goalie Micah Mesward stepped out to challenge Noone, who was by himself with the ball, but Noone slipped it through for a goal in the 14th minute for the Eagles (9-8-1).
“Their goal came basically off of a foul that didn’t get called,” TCA coach Blake Galvin said bluntly.
Mourning, the defender who lost his footing, offered his own interpretation.
“All I know is I was in front and I was going on to the ball, and then my legs weren’t under me,” Mourning said. “I’m usually pretty sturdy. Three plays later where he finally got a yellow card convinced me that it wasn’t just my imagination.”
But Mourning was quick to downplay any implied blame.
“It’s not any official’s call that’s going to be the difference in the game,” he said. “It’s going to be how hard you work. I’m proud of my team no matter what.”
TCA (16-2) had several chances to tie it, as the ball bounced around in front of the net on several occasions, but it never went in.
“It’s kind of one of those games where it feels like they’ve got cellophane wrapped around the goal and you just can’t get it in,” Galvin said.
This game was a rematch of last year’s 3A championship game, which Faith Christian also won 1-0.
TCA also played for a title in 2010, falling to local rival St. Mary’s.
This figured to be the Titans' year, as many veterans from those squads helped contribute to a team that outscored opponents 72-10 in earning the top seed in the tournament and plowing into the quarterfinals.
Yet that offense that averaged 4.9 goals was stymied when it mattered most, and the season came to end two rounds and three victories short of what the Titans expected.
“I would argue that we controlled the majority of the game in this one,” Galvin said. “It just wouldn’t go for us.”