EVERGREEN — You'd be hard pressed to find three games this season where the Erie girls soccer team didn't come up with at least three goals.
But when the Tigers lost both Charlie Miller and Alicia Cardenas to injuries in the Class 4A first round playoff game on Wednesday, it spelled doom against Evergreen in a 2-0 loss that brought to an end a fantastic, program-building season.
In just its second campaign of varsity play, the No. 23-seeded Tigers had a hard time countering the No. 10 Cougars on Evergreen's carpet turf, and the hosts scored two goals in 2 minutes, 33 seconds of play in the second half to advance. Erie ended the season 12-4.
"It was a game where we kind of felt whoever scored first would win, and we couldn't get that goal," said Dayton Owens, whose run as the Erie boys and girls coach is coming to an end so he can take care of his ailing mother back to North Carolina. "They got a spark from one of their girls off the bench in the second half, and we had lost our spark with Miller earlier in the game.
"Alicia got hurt to the point where she couldn't make the runs we're used to, either."
The Tigers are young and energetic, but they ran out of gas with only 15 players dressed. That number became even fewer after Miller tweaked her right knee with 5:22 left in the first half and Cardenas was hurt in the second stanza. The two had combined for 40 goals this year.
Evergreen favored the right corner of the field in their offensive third and didn't manage a lot of high-percentage shots, but as the Tigers wore down a little bit the Cougars started to pepper the goal more and more.
It paid off in the 50th minute when a picture perfect crossing pass from Courtney Pesche was one-timed into the net by Emma Theisen to give Evergreen a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars, used to lower-scoring games, quickly made it 2-0 when a deceptive lob shot from Sara Ingram from 30 yards snuck over Megan Marcoux.
"I'm very proud of the heart they showed, the no-quit attitude," Owens said. "We were hoping to get at least one win, but these girls next year are going to be loaded."
Erie's best chance came with just 20 seconds left in the first half on a free kick off the foot of junior Tiana Linkus that Cardenas got a foot on but pushed wide of the far post.
Linkus later said she was looking forward to what Erie has in store for the future, with just three graduating seniors and outstanding talent in the to-be sophomore class.
"I think we had a good battle tonight but our offense died after the injuries and our defense was over-ran at the end," Linkus said. "We just ran out of energy.
"We have three more years of having that freshmen class. There's so much talent up top, and I think if we get some more defenders next year we will be unstoppable."
Evergreen 2, Erie 0
At Evergreen HSErie (12-4) 0 0 — 0
Evergreen (10-5-1) 0 2 — 2
Goals (assists) — Evergreen: Emma Theisen (Courtney Pesche assist), 50th minute; Evergreen: Sara Ingram (unassisted), 53rd.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Erie: Megan Marcoux (60-2-6), Katie Glaze (20-0-2); Evergreen: Allie Seracuse (80-0-2).