The focus on wins and losses in high school sports, or the expressed belief that we all overemphasize them, can seem equally trite.
What the Scott County boys’ soccer team accomplished Saturday morning in a 2-1 home loss to Campbell County, however, in extension of what the Cards have shown through four defeats to start the season, was nothing short of inspiring.
Between the holiday weekend and a few nagging injuries, SC started the game with 14 players. For much of the second half, with the noonday heat taking its toll and muscle pulls mounting, the Cards were one shy of a full complement of 11 players.
“You can’t fault any of the guys. Everybody played as hard as they could and did as well as they could,” SC coach Willie Wilson said. “It was a great effort. It was great to see them come back. They’re not going to quit. They’re going to fight. That’s all we can ask.”
Joe Siler, the team’s lone senior, scored Scott County’s goal during one of those short-handed segments with 11 minutes remaining. The Cards had one or two modest chances thereafter to pull off the improbable draw.
Siler wasn’t even on a high school soccer team last season, or the two years before that.
“I’m very proud of this team. We’re still early in the season, but we’ve already come such a long way. I know were going to do better throughout the season,” Siler said. “I’m trying to be someone who can motivate my team to do better than I can, and just motivate each other so we don’t get our heads down. We know we can do it. The mentality just needs to be built more.”
Scott County lost its entire varsity roster to the Great Crossing start-up, and a promising first half slowly unraveled into a 6-1 loss to the cross-town rival on opening night.
The Cards have improved with every outing since, grinding out two one-goal losses, plus a 3-1 defeat at Franklin County on Thursday night in which they similarly, stubbornly, found the net in the final stages. Harrison Siegel did the honors in that one.
“It’s a loss on the board, but it’s a win for what we’re trying to build and what we’re trying to do,” Wilson said. “We’re trying to get that foundation set, and we’re getting it, slowly but surely.”
Remarkably, it was Scott County that looked like the fresher, hungrier team in the second half, but a two-goal halftime deficit proved too tough to overcome.
Trey Penrod, who has scored seven of the 11 goals this season for Campbell County (4-3), broke the early stalemate with a blast from just outside the 18-yard line.
“He got through and took a good shot,” Wilson said. “When they hit a good 18, 20-yard ball in traffic, sometimes when you’re the keeper, it’s hard to see. That’s gonna be a good shot anywhere. It was a good college strike.”
Josh Napier’s ability to spot a powerful throw-in from a few steps shy of the corner caught the Cards off guard for the second Camels’ connection. Sam Jones headed it in.
“It’s like having a corner kick every single time,” Wilson said. “They played it well, and we did our best to cover it.”
Junior goalkeeper Logan Jean had everything else covered for the duration, and the Cards’ ever-changing defensive rotation tirelessly contested 50/50 balls in the midfield to slow the Camels’ attack.
Siegel put a last-second touch on Hunter Flynt’s free kick for Scott County’s best first-half opportunity. It trickled just wide right. Aside from Siler’s goal, the Cards’ best bid after intermission was a bending corner kick by Andrew Hopkins. Campbell County’s Trent Sorgenfrei elevated above the encroaching pack to make the stop.
Siler said his goal was a product of training.
“It’s something that we’ve been practicing a lot. We had two whole days of just a drill where we do a throw-in, and finishing off the throw-in,” Siler said. “I remembered back to doing that, and it just seemed a lot easier.”
Scott County gets a second shot at undefeated Great Crossing on the Warhawks’ home field at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The Cards know they’ll be a decided underdog. After pushing the Camels, three-time defending champions of the district, to the brink, the intimidation factor continues to diminish against anyone.
“A lot of (Saturday’s performance) was trying to be focused and wanting this game more than they did,” Siler said. “I’m very proud of this team. We’re still early, but we’ve already come such a long way. I know we’re going to do better throughout the season.”
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.