LANCASTER — The Athens Bulldogs soccer season came to an end in the Division II sectional finals at Fairfield Union, 2-1, on Thursday.
The Bulldogs arrived at Fairfield riding high after a 9-0 drumming of McClain on Tuesday. The Fairfield Union Falcons are the No. 1 seed and had already beaten the Bulldogs 3-0 in Athens early in the year. However, the Athens team has grown significantly this season.
This was evident as the first twenty minutes of the match was a battle back and forth. That changed as a well played ball by Osha Backus led to an Athens corner kick. The kick, taken by Annie Moulton, was a beautiful high arching kick that was corralled by Quinn Murphy, who put the ball past Isabella Neal, the Falcons keeper, at the 25:00 minute mark in the first half.
Then the sky opened up, a lovely but blustery fall afternoon turned into a downpour in seconds. The rain greatly affected play, making footing difficult and effectively moving the ball nearly impossible. Luckily, the rain subsided as the half came to an end.
Halftime allowed the Falcons to regroup. They came out and showed why they are the top seed. They stymied all attempts at offensive cohesion, while mounting an attack that pressured an Athens defense that had played fantastically down the stretch.
The Falcons got on the board with a direct kick from Kendie Brown 10 minutes in. The-40 yard kick seemed to catch the Athens defense off guard as it found the back of the net.
The Falcons continued to pepper Kalya Hammonds, the Athens keeper. However, she made many impressive saves. The Falcons took the lead with 13 minutes left. Rachael Wartman maneuvered herself behind the Athens defense and delivered a crossing pass to a streaking Caroline Brown, who put the ball in the net.
The Bulldogs continued to try and generate some offense, but were held without a shot in the second half.
When asking Athens head coach JT Schroer his thoughts after the match he said, “I am very proud of our team and how hard they played. We were going up against the No. 1 seed and a team we haven’t scored against in five years. The coaches did a great job putting together a game plan and the players made it happen.”
An impressive, well fought match between the Falcons and the Bulldogs brought the Bulldogs season to an end with a 5-8-3 record.