SLATINGTON - The Greenwood boys soccer team set out to do something Saturday which has yet to be done this season: beat Mountain View.
The District 3 Class A champion Wildcats were pitted against their District 2 counterparts Saturday in the quarterfinals of the state tournament. But unfortunately for the Wildcats, they were unable to ruin Mountain View's perfect record and saw their season end in a 5-2 loss.
The sad part for Greenwood, aside from the loss itself, is that the final three-goal margin can be traced back to the Wildcats' first half performance. Although Greenwood was clipping right along with Mountain View nearly the whole game, during the first half the Wildcats seemed to be just half a step behind the Eagles, and in the end that's what buried them.
Not even 10 minutes into the match, Greenwood's Josh Ferguson took a pass from Tyler Fegley to rocket one past Mountain View keeper Bobby Pfahl. This put the score at 1-0 in Greenwood's favor, but from then on it was all Mountain View for the rest of the half.
Mountain View was moving to the ball faster than Greenwood, and often broke up Greenwood's passing plays to keep the ball in front of the Wildcats net. And it didn't take long for this high pressure to wear on Greenwood.
Mountain View scored two of its first half goals when Colby Thomas used his exceptional speed to break past Greenwood's defensive line, leaving Greenwood keeper Ryan Kerstetter with more than he could handle. Mount View's other first-half goal - the go-ahead tally at the time - came off the foot of Dylan Thomas when a Nathan Goodenough throw in about 10 yards from the baseline put Thomas in perfect position to score.
Down 3-1, but still certainly not out, Greenwood came back with an answer to Mountain View's offense in the second half. The momentum really started to swing when Greenwood's Hunter Roth buried one about five minutes into the second half to put the score at 4-2.
From there, it looked like a brand new Greenwood team on the field. The Wildcats were getting chances - they forced three corners and far outshot Mountain View within the first five minutes of the half - and coach Tom Magill was pleased with what he saw.
"(Colby Thomas) was a real handful in the first half," Magill said. "I thought we came out the second half with a plan to really kind of get back in the ball game. We got the goal that got us back in it, and then it was just kind of an unfortunate set of circumstances there."
Magill was right. The Wildcats were taking every chance they could to get back in the match, but the unfortunate circumstances Magill spoke of was a penalty shot goal from Mountain View which put the score back to 4-2.
This penalty kick was awarded after Mountain View had a throw in near the net, Kerstetter tried for the ball but wasn't able to hold onto it, and Mountain View took an open shot on goal. That set forth a series of motions that were punishing to Greenwood far beyond the moment - the Wildcats' Scott Kerstetter blocked the shot with his hands, drawing a hard red card and forcing the Wildcats to play short the remainder of the match.
Mountain View's Zeb Cross buried the ensuing penalty kick with 21:45 remaining in the contest.
This was the blow from which Greenwood was never able to recover. The Wildcats weren't able to score the rest of the match, and the eventual final score was 5-2. But even if the Wildcats ended short one man, they still gave up a heroic effort until the final whistle.
"I can't say enough about the effort when we were a man down," Magill said. "They just scrambled and scrambled and scrambled."
One possible game changer for Greenwood occurred near the end of the first half, when Ferguson got one past the goalie but it bounced off the right pole. At that point in the match it would have put the score at 2-2, but it wasn't meant to be. Ferguson, who is Greenwood's top scorer, was well marked by Mountain View the entire game.
Greenwood ended its season with a record of 20-3. Magill was proud of the effort his boys put up.
"Ultimately, I thought we could wear them down," Magill said. "I felt pretty good about that and there was some evidence of that, but we couldn't quite get one of those breaks that we need in order to keep it a little bit closer."