LAFAYETTE — Sometimes, things just don’t click on the soccer pitch.
After a 13-0 start to the year and a first-round win in the Class 4A state tournament, Centaurus’ once-promising season came to an abrupt halt on Saturday. Head coach Mario Bezzina’s Warriors, a No. 5 seed, couldn’t get going offensively in a disappointing 1-0 loss to No. 12 The Classical Academy Titans at Spangenberg Field.
“We didn’t quite reach the fluidity that we wanted to get to,” Bezzina said. “Whether it was because they (were) anticipating us better than maybe we were expecting, but they definitely didn’t let us get into a flow of the game, and they took advantage when they won possession.”
Centaurus senior goalkeeper Page Sanchez held strong for the Warriors (14-3) until the 34th minute when a TCA shot from freshman Demitra McClure hit the top of the crossbar and then bounced just inches past the goal plane. The unique shot was initially met with uncertainty by both teams, but it was eventually deemed a goal.
TCA fired another shot on goal soon after and then with time expiring in the half, a Titan attempt missed high. Bezzina was thankful to Sanchez for keeping it a one-goal game despite a relentless Titans attack.
“She’s kept us in games where we could have fallen behind and this game, thanks to her, we were still in it until the last minute,” Bezzina said. “That’s what a great goalie does.”
Centaurus’ offense, meanwhile, struggled to find much open space against a TCA defense that matched its offensive prowess.
Much of the same continued in the second half. The Warriors did have a pair of notable attempts come close, however, as senior Francesca Castellano got a shot off halfway through the period and junior Ava Patik later missed high of the crossbar on a free kick. Castellano said adjustments were made in the final 40 minutes, yet the needed goal remained elusive.
“I think at halftime we definitely knew that we needed to connect a bit more,” Castellano said. “I think we were doing that a little bit better (in the) second half, but I think we were just struggling to find the forwards a bit. This one just slipped under our feet.”
Also playing in what became her final high school game, senior Riley MacQueen said it remained a special experience to bring playoff soccer back to Centaurus for the first time since 2016.
“There’s so much love and just incredible energy between all of us,” MacQueen said. “Getting the school out here to support us and just having support from the school, it’s really exciting, especially for soccer; we haven’t been here for years.”