Berea Community’s boys and girls soccer teams both came out on the field with intensity in their first halves of a doubleheader against Estill County.
However, both teams could not hold on in the second half as the Engineers and Lady Engineers dealt Berea with a double dose of season-opening losses on Tuesday in Berea.
The Pirates fell 3-0, while the Lady Pirates were handed a 4-0 loss.
First-year Berea boys soccer head coach Mitchell Plowman was especially excited to take on the Engineers.
Plowman graduated from Estill County, where he also played soccer, and the coach said his team was ready to meet his alma mater on the field.
“Intensity was definitely there,” Plowman said of the rapid pace that the Pirates approached the game with. “In the first 10 minutes, we had this drive and feeling that we were going to cream this team.”
Berea stormed onto the field and presented a threat to the Engineers immediately with sophomore Edwin Ricco taking two shots on Estill County’s goal in the first five minutes.
The Pirates defense was also strong with sophomore John Wallhauser and Lucas Hannon shutting down many of the Engineer attempts to form an attack.
That changed mid-way through the first half when Estill County finally snuck a goal past Berea senior goalkeeper Julian Clavere after multiple saves.
“That first goal went through and you saw a change in momentum,” Plowman explained. “Estill had the momentum then and capitalized on it.”
Minutes later, the Engineers struck again.
“I really thought we were in that match and then our emotions got to us,” Plowman said of the Pirate’s fading in the second half.
The Engineers scored another quick goal and soon after that the Pirates had to play a man down when Ricco was red-carded.
“When it’s 10 on 11, you are never going to win,” Plowman said. “It’s just too difficult and they certainly had the advantage then.”
Still, the Pirates refused to quit and the coach said he was impressed that his short-handed team kept pushing even till the end.
“We were still making it to the goals even with 10 guys. I think we still had five shots on goal even after we were down a man,” Plowman said.
The coach said he was proud how his team adapted to adversity in the first game of the season.
“Our senior, Sean Fagin, was an incredible leader for us tonight. He is a centerback and one of our biggest defenders and he stepped up as an offensive guy tonight. He outran the whole other team midfield to keep making it to the goal. He took some shots for us,” Plowman said.
While the coach admits it was strange to hear cheers for the Engineers while he was clad in yellow and black, Plowman said his team’s efforts reenergized him for the next game.
“It threw me off a bit,” the coach said with a smile. “At the end of the day it was good to play against them. They are a good team and have the fundamentals down. We are going to take this game and work on our effort and hear and our fundamentals, as well. I think our effort on 65 percent of the game I’m happy with. It’s the 35 percent we need to work on now.”
Berea Community girls soccer coach Craig Wideman said his young team will definitely take the season-opener loss as a learning experience.
“It’s a first game. We are still in the building process and we will use this as a learning tool to see what we can do to get better,” Wideman said. “We are going to analyze this game and see what worked and what didn’t for us.”
Wideman it was the first time the Lady Pirates had faced the Lady Engineers in the regular season since he had been the coach.
“We are a young team with not a lot of experience (in varsity play) and I think our girls played a good game. Estill played very well and, in some cases, we made some mistakes and Estill capitalized on them. It’s what happens when you have a young team,” Wideman said.
Despite their youth, the Lady Pirates kept pace with Estill County throughout the first half thanks to some tough defense.
After the Lady Engineers took a 1-0 lead in the first, senior Madison Cummins fired off several shots at Estill’s goalie — but her attempts went too wide or sailed just above the top posts.
With less than two minutes to go, Cummins took advantage of a Estill County misstep to dribble the ball all the way down the field and set up a sharp kick which flew between two defenders but sailed just outside the left post.
After halftime, a re-grouped Estill County quickly scored a quick goal to expand their lead 2-0.
The Lady Pirates started to fade after that and the Lady Engineers scored twice more with just minutes left in the game.
“We are going to try and fight till the end. In some cases we can make it through and find that in ourselves. We definitely have a lot to talk about and work on as the season goes along,” Wideman said.
Both Berea teams will return to action on Thursday at home where the Lady Pirates will face Paris and the Pirates will take on Garrard County.