Big hits, kicks and jumps
Despite having quality chances in both halves and being the more aggressive team with the ball, Highland’s girls soccer team fell short against Mascoutah 1-0 in the IHSA Class 2A semifinals Tuesday night at Triad High School.
Sydney Etter slipped a shot past Highland keeper Bella LaPorta for a goal at the 20-minute mark of the second half and Mascoutah goalie Sydney Packler made it hold up. Mascoutah (12-9-1) advances to play Triad at 6 p.m. Friday for the regional championship.
The game followed a familiar theme that dogged the Lady Bulldogs, who finished 6-15-2. During the 2019 season, eight of Highland’s losses came in close one-goal games.
“We had plenty of chances to score and that’s kind of been our Achilles heel all season long and as I’ve said our worst loss (of the season) was only three goals,” Highland coach Josh Oswald said. “So, we really felt like we were in the majority of the games all season long and this one was no exception. I really think we had more scoring chances and unfortunately, we weren’t able to find the back of the net.”
Neither team had many easy scoring chances in the first half, as Packler and LaPorta were solid and had stout support defensively from their back lines.
Although there was no scoring in the first half, the Lady Bulldogs kept the ball close to 25 minutes as they had several corner kicks and throws-in on the Mascoutah end of the field.
“I think we had about six or seven corner kicks and we had a lot of deep, long throw-ins and I can remember four or five shots where we were taking shots inside the (goal) box at 18 (feet) and they all went high,” Oswald said.
Mascoutah picked up its intensity on offense in the second half and the increased pace paid off when Etter, a freshman midfielder/forward, scored what would become the game-winning goal with 20 minutes left in regulation.
One of Highland’s best chances to score came off a corner kick as Katie Augustin headed a shot toward the Indians goal. Packler, however, made a superb save to deny a goal about seven minutes into the game.
Highland had several chances in the final 10 minutes as well, but Mascoutah’s defense and Packler did not break.
“It was just one of those nights, and we just had too many of those nights this season where we just couldn’t score,” Oswald said.