BHS soccer falls in 1st round of playoffs

Published 9:38 am Friday, May 3, 2013

The Bainbridge High School Bearcats’ varsity soccer season came to an end Wednesday evening, after they were defeated by the Whitewater High School Wildcats 3-1 at Centennial Field, in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs.

“It was a disappointing way to end a great season,” Bainbridge coach Jamie Ard said. “I did not feel that we were overmatched. I felt we got outplayed by a good team.”

Whitewater took an early lead in the 20th minute, converting a corner kick opportunity into a goal after the ball was not cleared away from in front of the net. The Wildcats increased their lead five minutes later, after getting a shot from close range after Bearcat defenders failed to close down the attacking Whitewater striker and kick the ball away.

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In the 27th minute, Bainbridge broke onto the scoreboard and cut Whitewater’s lead to 2-1.

Michael Moran took a pass on the right side and dribbled into the penalty are, but the ball was knocked toward the goal by the Whitewater defense. As a Wildcat defender tried to clear the ball, Moran put immediate pressure on the ball as it was being kicked, and it deflected off his body and redirected across the face of the goal.

Freshman forward J.C. Castro was waiting just in front of the net, and with the goalkeeper out of position, he was able to tape it in with a left-footed shot from 3 yards away.

In the 51st minute, Whitewater scored its final goal of the game when the Wildcats took a long throw-in that came to a foot of a Whitewater player in front of goal.  He volleyed a curling shot into the top corner of the net, just out of the reach of Bainbridge goalkeeper Dominic Douglas’ diving save attempt.

Ard thought his team played well for most of the game, but made some bad mental errors that cost them a positive outcome.

“All three of Whitewater’s goals came from lax defending,” he said. “The corner resulted because we did not clear the ball away from the goal when we had the chance. The second came because we didn’t pressure the ball in the most dangerous area of the field, and the third was scored because we didn’t mark a man in a dangerous area on a throw-in.

“Unfortunately, we just made too many mistakes in fundamental defending to win this game.”

Ard especially praised the play of Carlos Becerra, one of the team’s seniors. He also noted that the Wildcats’ defense seemed focused on shutting down the Bearcats’ best offensive threats, and Bainbridge’s offense was stymied by that pressure.

“I thought that my senior player, Carlos Becerra, played harder than anyone on the field and showed that he really wanted to win this game,” Ard said. “I was glad to see his effort and desire. Luis Mejia and Daniel Provence worked hard, but they had a difficult night as they were marked up and pressured hard before and after receiving the ball.

“Whitewater made sure that those two were not going to beat them.”

Ard also noted that Wednesday’s game showed the gap in talent between Bainbridge’s Region 1-AAAAA and Whitewater’s Region 4-AAAAA. All four Region 4 teams defeated their Region 1 opponents in the first round, and several games were by lopsided scores — McIntosh beat Thomas County Central 10-0, Starr’s Mill beat Northside-Columbus 10-0, and Northgate beat Hardaway, 3-1.

“We have come a long way with this program by taking small steps and being patient,” he said. “The next step that we have to make — and a step that all of Region 1 in Class AAAA through AAAAAA have to take — is to be able to beat teams from places like Region 4 in Georgia.

“If any of us want to win a state title, those are the teams we’ll have to beat to get the job done.”

Bainbridge finished its season with a record of 14-3-2 and a Region 1-AAAAA championship.