Mavs Lose Heartbreaker to Irmo 1-2

     The Mavericks welcomed the Irmo Yellow Jackets to Mauldin Stadium for their SC AAAA Second Round Playoff match.  The Mavs were looking to avenge their soggy Viking Cup loss and advance to the Quarterfinals.  Both teams started out trying to stamp their style on the match.  Mauldin concentrated on control and possession, keeping the ball on the floor, playing in and checking back.  Irmo set out to use their height in an air battle and play long balls forward to their star.  It was Mauldin that got the first good look when Lauren Young turned on a loose ball from a corner and fired a shot to the right of goal.  Unfortunately Gina Cardenas could not get out of the way and was judged offsides when the ball struck her.  The Mavs kept the ball deep in the Yellow Jacket half and came close again when Sarah Tuggle spun at the endline and fired her shot onto the near post.  Irmo struggled to clear their end but finally got a ball out with a long clearance toward the 18.  Caitland Considine came out to cut the angle and Tera Dolan was stride for stride.  The only chance was to hit it high, which she did to put the Jackets ahead in the eleventh.  Irmo became more aggressive after the goal and increased their pressure on the ball.  The Mavs stuck to their game plan and quickly began generating chances.  Maggie Cowley challenged the keeper with a long ball from the left.  Minutes later she sent a nice cross to the back post and Ragan Hill that the keeper barely got to.  Sandra Siatkowski was all over the field winning challenges and playing up to the halfs.  One of her challenges started a play that earned a corner.  Sarah Tuggle’s service found Lauren at the six and her header struck the crossbar.  The ball bounded down and Tera rushed in to half volley past the keeper for the equalizer.  With twenty minutes left in the half, the Mavs worked hard to find a second.  The halfs kept the ball in the middle third and probed the Irmo defense down the wings.  Meghan Meek, Haley Dunham and Ragan ran off each other and created a lot of confusion at the top of the box.  The defense did a good job keeping the ball in front, and protecting Caitland when the ball was knocked over them.  For their superb efforts they gave up one corner and no shots in the last 30 minutes of the half.

     The job in the second half was simple: get a goal.  The Mavs got their first chance one minute in.  Gina intercepted a clearance from the back and played wide to Maggie who found Sarah on the left.  Sarah crossed to the six where Ragan’s deflection had the keeper beat but went inches wide.  After yielding a free kick that was sent harmlessly wide, the Mavs turned up the pressure.  Emily Praktish plied the right side earning numerous deep throw-ins.  She found Sarah with one and she sent a long cross to the back post.  Lauren headed high across goal and Ragan had to wait patiently for the ball to fall for her shot.  Her first hit the back of a defender and Sarah tapped it back to her.  Her second was blocked by the centerback.  The Mavs won an indirect from about 30 out and Sarah chipped behind the defense.  Emily, Tera, Lauren, Ragan and Amanda Martin all converged on the ball but the keeper held it fast.  Mauldin earned a free kick at midfield and Gina sent it long to Lauren who flicked it on to Ragan.  Two Irmo defenders blocked Ragan’s path just enough to let their keeper get there first.  Irmo defended corners with all 11 in the box but Sarah’s service still found the Mavs.  Amanda’s header was blocked as was Emily’s volley but Emily hustled after the ball and found Haley.  Hay’s shot arced over the keeper but struck the crossbar, bouncing down only a foot from the goal line.  The keeper caught up with the ball just in time to take it off Lauren’s foot.  Haley later collected a ball on the left and sent Sarah through to the center.  Tuggie’s shot from the top of the arc was deflected over the goal, but a goal kick was given.  With the Mavs dominating the possession and attack and the defense playing high in support, the match took a cruel turn.  Mauldin was caught in possession at midfield and a Yellow Jacket played a quick ball diagonally across the field.  Irmo’s star ran hard to get a touch and fired low across goal to put Irmo ahead, very much against the run of play.  With six minutes to play, Mauldin had to dig deep.  The Mavericks sent the restart high to the spot but the keeper beat the three Mavs to the ball.  Lauren flicked a cross from Maggie on goal but into a wall of five.  Sarah fed Tera just inside the area and her shot forced a good save.  Lauren tried to send a ball across goal but missed high.  Emily saw the keeper off her line and tried a long range shot but it found the roof of the net.  Maggie passed a ball into Gina who turned quickly and fired from the arc.  Her shot beat the keeper to the left but struck the crossbar bouncing high but out.  The Mavs looked for another quick shot but the ref blew for full time, ending an exciting match and season for the Mavericks.

     Tonight, the best team did not get beat, but they did lose.  The Mavericks played hard, played fair and gave it their all.  The girls should be very proud of the way they played this match and their season.  The Seniors will be able to look back on four excellent campaigns.  The rest can look forward to a new season and new opportunities.  Thank you, girls, for a wonderful year.