BHS soccer squad falls short in regional title game
Doubling the number of wins from its inaugural year wasn't quite enough for the Baldwin High School soccer team.
The Bulldogs won 12 games in the program's second year of existence. A state bid was their goal, but the season ended last Thursday in the regional championship. Piper defeated Baldwin 5-3 at Baker University's Liston Stadium.
"It was a pretty big letdown," BHS junior Dustin Schiller said. "Everyone expected a win, but our season went a lot better than last year's and everyone had improved a lot since the beginning."
Both teams battled the rain and cold weather throughout the entire game. Coach Gus Wegner said Piper just played better that night.
"It was a well-played game," Wegner said. "We played well, but they played better. We both had the weather to deal with."
After an inaugural year record of 6-12, the Bulldogs returned almost every player this fall. They finished this season with a record of 12-5-1.
"It was quite a reversal," Wegner said. "To be 8-8 or 9-7 would have been nice, but to win 12 games indicates how hard the kids worked all year. We made a dramatic turn around and I attribute that to the kids."
Several reasons can be given for the dramatic change in record. One of those is the addition of Brazilian exchange student Fernando Chuery. He led the team in goals with 26, while totaling eight assists.
"Fernando and I had really good chemistry on and off of the field," Schiller said. "Having him by my side was a blast. He was definitely a very valuable asset to the team. As the season progressed, he started talking more and became a good leader."
Schiller scored 19 goals and accounted for 15 of the Bulldogs' assists this fall. He credits the team's success to everyone having another year of experience under his or her belt and improvement during the season.
"I think our success was due to the fact that we all get along and know our jobs on the field," Schiller said. "Everyone would work on their position in practice and continue to improve their game. We all practiced hard and everyone just loved to go out and play and do their best and win."
Last week's game began well for Baldwin. Schiller and Chuery moved the ball up field after the kickoff. Chuery assisted Schiller with a pass across the middle that resulted in a Baldwin goal.
The Bulldogs led 1-0 with only 17 seconds off of the clock.
"At that point, I was really excited that we came out and scored so quickly," Schiller said. "I'm sure the team was all pumped, but then we let a goal soon after."
Wegner said he wishes the team could have scored another goal quickly, because it might have taken the wind out of Piper's sails.
"If we could have put one more in the net, that would have set them back on their heels," Wegner said. "That goal was so quick. I've never seen anything like that before."
Piper did score the next goal with 23 minutes left in the half to tie the game at 1-1. In the next minute, both teams exchanged goals, leaving it a tied game 2-2.
The Pirates then took a 3-2 lead with 10:48 left in the half, but Baldwin responded. Chuery scored on a rocket shot from the middle of the Piper side of the field. His goal tied the game again, which it remained until halftime.
"In the first half, we played really well, but had a few let downs," Schiller said. "We went into halftime with a 3-3 tie. The second half was a lot worse. We weren't controlling the ball too well on offense, so our defense had a lot more pressure and let them get by them."
In the second half, Piper scored two goals in the first 13 minutes to take a 5-3 lead. Baldwin had a few chances but was never able to score another goal.
"We hoped to get a goal or two in the second half, but we just couldn't get any," Wegner said. "We had some shots that just didn't go in."
Baldwin will graduate six seniors from this team. Wegner said they will be missed greatly next fall.
"To be losing those seniors is tough," Wegner said. "I have known some of them since kindergarten, which makes it harder."
Despite the earlier exit than expected from postseason play, Wegner was thrilled with the season.
"We had high expectations and we even exceeded those," Wegner said. "We knew we had a good team this year, but we weren't sure how good. We had a very successful year anyway you measure it."