Patriots show gumption in season-ending loss

From Herald Staff Reports

Joe Asbury didn’t sound like a coach drowning in regret.

The Heritage Hills boys soccer coach took inventory of Wednesday’s Class 1A sectional semifinals at Lincoln City and said his team did just about everything necessary. The Patriots defended South Spencer standout Shane Shelton the way they wanted, for the most part. They generated scoring chances. And when the Rebels twice lassoed a two-goal lead, the Patriots carved into the deficit and eventually had openings to tie.

The sum of the positive qualities couldn’t save Heritage Hills’ season. The Rebels clipped the Patriots 3-2 in the semifinals, weathering a Heritage Hills push that included two goals from senior standout Isaiah Hagan.

Asbury couldn’t complain about how the Patriots (3-10-3) executed for most of the 80 minutes. It was two fleeting moments that hurt.

Shelton curled in the match’s first goal off a restart from about 35 yards out. And minutes before halftime, South Spencer’s Brian Fortune gained control of a goal kick that didn’t have enough oomph and beat the Patriot keeper one-on-one for a 2-0 Rebel edge.

“(We) played pretty well, but we had those two plays that were just not good at all,” Asbury said. “They were just restarts that went bad. We weren’t really disappointed in our play, we were more disappointed in the two restarts.”

Where Heritage Hills succeeded was curbing Shelton, who scored all three of his team’s goals when the Patriots and Rebels fought to a 3-all draw Sept. 27. The Pats had one man marking Shelton and another shadowing him, with Ben Wilson and Torrin Madden giving chase. Shelton scored a second goal with about 15 minutes to play, but considering Shelton’s other strike came on an undefendable set piece, Asbury considered the Pats minimized his damage to one goal.

“We were trying to do our best to take him out of the game, and we did a nice job,” Asbury said. “When you do that, that takes away some other parts of your game, but we thought it was that important, so we tried it. We definitely had goal-scoring opportunities all night, so it wasn’t like we were taking away some of our offense by doing that.”

Sam Scherry fed a through ball to Hagan for a goal early in the second half, and Hagan punched in another score about two minutes after Shelton’s second goal to buzz the Rebel lead to 3-2. With more than a dozen minutes remaining to search for a tying goal, the Pats concocted offensive flurries but couldn’t connect, as the careers of three seniors came to a close.

Yomar Cital and Miguel Lara will join Hagan in graduating, and Hagan exits with the program’s career record for assists (48) and the single-season assist record (28) set in 2011.

“He’s a really nice player, and he’s done a lot in his four years for us,” Asbury said.
Hagan also finished by scoring his eighth and ninth goals of the season Wednesday, providing the thrust for the Pats’ last gasp.

“We were down 2-0 and fought, got back into it, and got down 3-1 and fought, got back into it,” Asbury said. “I’m proud of our kids for that.”

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