EVERGREEN — A Silver Creek soccer season nearly as notable for its disjointed schedule as for the inspirational play from its youth took another odd twist Tuesday night.
Perhaps it was fitting that a season truncated by incessant snow postponements ended with an interrupted final match for the Raptors, who fell 1-0 under the drizzle and under the lights at Evergreen High School in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
“This has been an amazing season,” Raptors coach Pat Monacelli said. “We came in tonight fully expecting to win this thing. And then an unlucky bounce.”The 19th-seeded Raptors, who largely overachieved this season with a roster containing only one senior and one junior, endured a 73-minute, mountain-town lightning delay late in the first half. It occurred shortly after the No. 14 Cougars had taken the lead.
Conditions on the artificial surface were wet and drizzly when the teams returned, which presented a challenge for a Raptors squad accustomed to playing on grass.
“The turf is naturally fast, then you add this rain to it, and it made it considerably faster,” Monacelli said. “I think our offense had a little bit of trouble catching up to the speed of the turf. We weren’t able to create some of the things we normally create.”
Evergreen (8-5-1) got on the board in the 26th minute, when junior Jenny Slack blasted a shot past Raptors keeper Jamie Kirkland. Kirkland dove to her right and got a hand on the ball, but couldn’t prevent it from caroming into the far post.
Monacelli wasn’t spinning it to his Raptors (9-3-3) that it was a positive that they merely qualified for the postseason. They had designs on defeating the Cougars, who also boast a roster largely composed of talented underclassmen. That being said, he was beaming about how his group quickly became a quality squad.
“I honestly think we surprised a lot of people this year with the youth that we had and how well that we played,” Monacelli said. “I think we surprised everyone but ourselves. We knew what he had.”
The Raptors lone senior was defender Kailee Cox, who exited with an ankle injury midway through the second half. She didn’t stay out for long, though, realizing it might be her final game in a Silver Creek uniform.
After shedding a few tears with teammates, she smiled at the notion that she was leaving the team in good hands.
“I was definitely a little worried, because last year we lost nine seniors,” Cox said. “I lost my entire defense, and our midfield took a hit, so we weren’t really sure what we were going to get.
“When the tryouts happened, I saw that the talent these girls have is unbelievable. I wouldn’t wish to share my season with anyone else. They have so much heart. By far the most heart I’ve ever seen from any team I’ve ever played on.”
Evergreen played steadily after taking the 1-0 lead, remaining on attack instead of cautiously sitting back. The Cougars peppered Kirkland with eight shots overall (the Raptors had three on frame).
“I have a lot of respect for that team,” Evergreen coach Peter Jeans said of Silver Creek. “They played hard and they played all the way to the finish. It was a fun game to watch.”
Follow Paul on Twitter: @PaulWillis21
Evergreen 1, Silver Creek 0
At Evergreen H.S.
Silver Creek (9-3-3) 0 0 — 0
Evergreen (8-5-1) 1 0 — 1
Goals (assists) — Evergreen: Slack, 26th minute.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Silver Creek: Kirkland (80-1-7). Evergreen: Ulfig 80-0-3.