Flurry of Cyclone goals too much for Bulldogs
OTTAWA — Less than 24 hours before the Baldwin High School soccer team played here Tuesday, coach Matt McCune had doubts about the contest.
His prediction came true in a bad way. In the first-ever Frontier League soccer tournament, the No. 6-seeded Bulldogs fell to Ottawa 6-2.
“I knew they were going to play bad tonight,” McCune said. “We scrimmaged at Liston Stadium on Monday and we did not look good at all. I had a feeling it was going to be a bad night.”
Baldwin fell to 0-3-1 on the season after the loss. An approximate 10-minute stretch during the middle of the game doomed the Bulldogs.
Both teams played scoreless until late in the first half. Then Ottawa scored three goals during the final eight minutes of the half. Things didn’t get much better after halftime.
Ottawa added a pair of goals during the first couple of minutes of the second half. It was a short stretch of the game McCune would like to forget about.
“In a 10-minute span, we gave up five goals,” he said. “You can’t do that against anybody, especially a good team like Ottawa.”
He said his team lost focus during the middle of the game and made some costly mistakes.
“We had some defensive breakdowns before and after halftime,” McCune said. “We lost focus on the field. We didn’t mark very well at all. Their most dangerous player was just walking around and no one was even on him. Then we challenged for the ball, we were much more timid and we let them basically have the ball.”
Baldwin’s two goals also came during that stretch. Senior Levi Moore scored the first goal right before halftime to close the Cyclones’ lead to 3-1. Sophomore Shawn Berndt added the second goal five minutes into the second half, but Ottawa still led 5-2.
Ottawa scored its final goal later in the half when BHS was trying to push players up the field to close the lead. McCune said the wet weather may have contributed to the loss, but he believes toughness was a big part, too.
“Part of it may have been the weather, but we’re going to have to be tougher,” McCune said. “We’re small and slow, so we have to be tough. We had none of that tonight.”
Last Thursday, the Bulldogs hosted Gardner-Edgerton and fell 2-1 to the Trailblazers. It was another tough loss for the Bulldogs.
“We lost in the last three minutes of the game,” McCune said. “We had a chance to beat them, but we got a little unlucky there. We’d like to play them again.”
The two teams played a scoreless first half, but Gardner ended that early in the second half. Then the Bulldogs responded with a goal of their own.
Junior Will Nitcher booted a free kick, which was headed by sophomore Clint Chapman. Sophomore Caleb Michaels gained possession of the ball and scored the goal to tie the contest at 1-1.
The game remained tied until the Trailblazers took advantage of a BHS mistake with three minutes left in the game. That goal was enough to win 2-1.
“We were playing really good low-pressure defense the entire game,” McCune said. “Then three guys decided they wanted to slide for the ball. When you slide tackle and miss, you’re beat. We played smart for a while, but we will learn from it.”
McCune added that he’d rather his team lose early matches than at the end of the season.
“You want to get those bad losses out at the beginning of the year,” McCune said. “I want to win every single game, but if we lose, I’d rather lose early so we can learn from our mistakes.”
The Bulldogs will play in the consolation round of the bracket today. They play at Spring Hill. The junior varsity will start at 4:30 p.m. with the varsity following at 6 p.m.
“I think they will come back and play better Thursday,” McCune said. “I’m still learning as a coach where to put players to best help us win. We’ll figure things out.”