Trigg lost 2-1 to Hopkinsville in last Wednesday’s championship game of the 2nd Region Tournament played at the Trigg County Recreation Complex.
“It’s heartbreaking to lose, but there is some consolation in the fact that it took a great team to put us out,” Trigg head coach Josh Nichols said. “We didn’t play well in the first half, but I was extremely proud of the way we came out in the second half. We competed, played hard and made a good showing.”
Trigg, which defeated Hoptown 2-0 earlier in this season, was victimized by goals late in each half of the game. The Wildcats recovered from Zach Henson’s first goal with 1:37 left in the first half, but they couldn’t come back from his second with 1:03 to go in regulation.
“You really want to tighten up at the end of halves like that,” Nichols said. “You also want to push and try to get a goal.”
Nichols said one key difference between last Wednesday’s contest and Trigg’s earlier win over Hoptown was the Tigers’ early edge in energy level.
“They were ready to play, no doubt about that,” Nichols said. “Maybe we were back on our heels a little bit. The size of the event may have gotten to us early on.”
Trigg sophomore Blaine Alexander tied the game with 12:20 left in the second half. Hopkinsville was whistled for a foul about 40 yards in front of the Tiger goal. Trigg senior Aaron Yielding sent the ensuing free kick toward Tiger goalkeeper Trey Upton, who made the initial save but could not stop Alexander from sending the rebound into the net.
“We were really having to push, and as a result, they were spreading us out and finding some space,” Nichols said. “It came at the perfect time. Much longer and there probably wouldn’t have been any coming back. Aaron’s done that all year. He hits a tough ball to hold on to. We know that and crash the net, and Blaine was in the right place.”
Hopkinsville outshot the Wildcats 29-16, and many of the Tigers’ chances were quality shots that were stopped by Trigg goalkeeper Kevin Latham.
“The game wouldn’t have been in question in the second half if Kevin hadn’t played so well,” Nichols said. ‘He did everything we asked and got better as the year went on.”
Seniors Latham, Yielding, Caleb Simmons, Zach Adams, Joel Ben Thomas, Jared Stallons, Ethan Sweno, Devon Wharton and Trevor Cook suited up for the final time at TCHS, and Nichols said their talent and experience will be tough to replace.
“These guys have gotten better every year,” Nichols said. “They’re a great, hard-working group, the winningest group of seniors to ever come through Trigg County. That says it all right there. We’ll miss them on and off the field.”
The cupboard will not be bare in 2011, though, Nichols said. A solid group of returning players will make the Wildcats competitive in the region and 4th District next season.
“We’ve got a good core coming back, a big freshman class, and they’ll have to grow up in a hurry next year,” Nichols said. “We may not win 21 games next year, but we’ll be good.”
Nichols reiterated that the school-record 21-win season indicates a big step forward for the Wildcat soccer program.
“We set the bar really high this year, and that puts a lot of pressure on the young kids coming up,” Nichols said. “We never would have dreamed that we could have done it, but once you get there, you get a little greedy and want to keep going. I’m thrilled, and once we can sit back and think about it, I’m sure we’ll feel really good.”