Bobcats’ rally falls short in soccer playoff loss
Ryan Lawless sat on the ground as Basehor-Linwood coaches and players talked about the postseason loss.
Recounting the game, coach Jaclyn Naster told the players there wasn’t much she could say that would make them feel any better. The team fell one goal short despite playing well and battling to the end. She was proud of them.
If they fight like this throughout their life, then this was an important lesson, she said.
In the end, the Bobcats lost to St. James Academy, 2-1, in the first round of the Class 4-1A regional playoffs and ended their season.
The game was 0-0 at halftime. St. James scored a goal four minutes into the second half when Gil Williams took a shot that Lawless deflected, but the ball still rolled into the goal and gave the Thunder a 1-0 lead.
St. James scored again 13 minutes later when Steve Loya followed up a missed shot and knocked it in for a 2-0 lead.
The teams traded shots on goal for the next 10 minutes, but none went in until Basehor’s Patrick Rutherford received a pass, took a couple of dribbles and buried a shot into the left side of the net.
Rutherford’s goal energized the Bobcats.
“We are not done,” Lawless shouted from the other side of the field. “We have got this game right where we want it.”
The Bobcats played passionate soccer for the next five minutes. They seemed to run faster than their St. James opponents and played with a sense of urgency. They took shots on goal, but none found the net as the minutes ticked away.
With one minute to play, Lawless made yet another save. He booted the ball deep into St. James territory and BLHS had a chance to tie the game. The Bobcats had a free kick on a restart in Thunder territory and attempted a shot, but they couldn’t score. From there, St. James cleared the ball to midfield, possessed the ball and ran out the clock.
The Bobcats’ comeback bid fell just short.
“I think St. James Academy is a great program. I am glad we got to meet them again,” Naster said. “It was a well fought game, but just too little, too late. I am glad that our team never let up. They never gave up.”
When it was over, after Naster tried to make sense of it all, players tugged at their shin guards. Other players spoke about the loss and how much the seniors meant to them. Others spoke about next year and how good the team could be.
Assistant coach Austin Knipp said the players would have to work hard if they want to improve. They will need to play soccer in the winter and in the spring. They will also need to play in the summer and participate in camps.
When the speeches were over, the group huddled around Lawless who hadn’t moved or said much. They helped him up and other players made their way over to the huddle, resembling a scene from a sitcom finale where everyone gathers to say farewell one more time. As an assembled group, standing in 40-degree temperatures and with their hands in the air, the Bobcats counted to three, yelled one last time and then parted ways.
No one seemed to feel much better as the agony of a completed season set in.
“Yeah, it is real tough. I have only been on the team two years, but I just love these guys. It is rough to end like this,” Lawless said. “It was definitely a good year. I can’t say much more about these guys, I hope for the juniors that next year they go a long way.”
He also praised Naster, who took over the program this year.
“She stepped up as a head coach and she did it well,” he said. “I wouldn’t have had anybody else coach us.”