Originally published October 28, 2017 at midnight, updated October 28, 2017 at midnight
Horizon’s soccer season comes to an end after a 4-1 home loss to Damascus Christian in the first round of league playoffs.
Despite the Hawks 6-8 record overall this season, they ended above .500 in league play, going 6-5.
A 6-5 record heading into the playoffs was enough to earn the Hawks the sixth seed and home field advantage in the first round against seventh seed Damascus Christian.
Neither the Hawks nor Eagles could pull away from one another in the first half, and the game was scoreless heading into halftime.
But a penalty kick in the opening minutes of the second half would quickly break the tie.
In the 47th minute, forward Ethan Fuller scored the lone goal for the Hawks against the Eagles.
A first attempt by Fuller was blocked by the opposing goalie, but Fuller stuck with the play and followed his shot, scoring on the second attempt.
A 1-0 lead for the Hawks, however, disappeared only three short minutes after they had taken control of the game.
Damascus Christian retaliated with a goal to tie it back up in the 50th minute, which would be the beginning of what was a long second half for the Hawks.
Three more goals within the last 30 minutes of the game, all by Damascus Christian, would be too much for the Hawks to overcome. Damascus Christian won 4-1 and now move on to the next round of the special district six league playoffs.
“We were all disappointed in the result,” said Head Coach Andrew Stenberg. “It wasn't how we wanted to end the season, but nonetheless, it is what happened.”
Since the start of the season, this Hawks team knew that this year was about progression, which was much different than last year’s goal to be champions — which they were as they ended their season winning the league playoffs with a 3-0 win over Damascus Christian.
This season, the Hawks showed signs of progression, but as Stenberg explained, “It seemed like we were never able to peak this year. Normally as a team, you continue to improve and we generally peak about halfway through the season and finish off with lots of wins, but this year, when we lost to Livingstone Adventist 2-1, I think that was going to be our peaking game and we just weren't able to do it.”
Their late September game against Livingstone Adventist was a chance for the Hawks to extend their winning streak to three games after starting the season 0-3, but Stenberg said they were unable to get over the hump, finishing the rest of their season 4-4.
And the issue Stenberg noticed this year with the team was the team aspect. Next year, that will be an area of focus for a young Hawks team.
“I think next year we are going to try and make sure that we bond together stronger as a team. We just seemed to lack communication this year and the team didn't quite gel,” said Stenberg. “Hopefully next year we can come into the season in shape and really get to working on what we need to do as soon as the season begins.”
It’s clear that this team still has some work to do if they want to get back to the league title game, but flashes of improvement from these athletes throughout this season gives this program hope that sooner, rather than later, they will be back competing for a league title.