The Dark Horses soccer them was unable to keep their playoff run going Wednesday night, losing in overtime in heartbreaking fashion to one of the toughest teams they’ve faced all season in the First Flight Nighthawks. The final was 3-1, the Nighthawks scoring a goal with less than a minute left to tie it up and tacking two more on in the extra period.
“They were definitely the top one or two teams we’ve played all year,” said Clinton coach Brad Spell. “They really controlled the game and forced us to play defensively the whole time.”
The game was close the entire time, with a scoreless draw going into the half. Holding First Flight, a perenial state title contender, to a scoreless first half was a good sign for the Horses.
“I’m proud of my guys and was really trilled that we had held them to 0-0 at halftime,” said Spell. “They played with a lot of heart and gave it everything they had. It just didn’t go our way in the end.”
The Horses drew first blood in this battle when Logan Spell scored the first goal of the night, beating his man in a one-on-one to give them the 1-0 lead.
From there all they had to do was keep the Nighthawks out of the net, a tall task. They did this for almost the rest of the second half, but weren’t able to hold on. With 54 seconds left in the game, First Flight got an excellent throw-in that bounced around a while near the Horses’ net before finally finding its mark, tying it at 1-1 at the end of regulation.
In overtime, Clinton couldn’t hold off the Nighthawks, who scored twice more to give themselves the 3-1 win.
“I really thought we outplayed them in the first 10 minutes of overtime. Even when they scored, we had some good looks ourselves that just didn’t go in,” said Spell. “They had a couple of 6’3” midfielders that were really good as well. We tried to the best we could, but we just unfortunately took another heartbreaking loss in the third round.”
The Clinton soccer team will lose six outstanding seniors that have played exceptionally all year, including Logan Spell, Skylar Cannady, Jacob Bauman, Ivan Zelaya, Obed Gallegos and new single-season scoring record holder Ivan Ponce.
“I really want to say thanks to our six seniors. They have been excellent leaders and have made this season memorable. I’m going to really miss those guys and want to thank them for all the hard work they’ve put in with their time here,” said Spell. “I also want to thank the fans as well and how they have supported us this year. They’ve also made this year a pleasure and a great season to be a part of, though I’ll probably get over this loss in about nine or 10 years.”
The Dark Horses end the year at 20-6.
Reach Michael Hardison at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.