William Graham wonders what might have been had the Alleman boys' soccer team finished one of its final two second-half scoring chances on Saturday.
"Definitely a different story," the Alleman senior midfielder said. "We're not talking the same way that we are now. We could have turned the game around."
Instead, the Pioneers walk away with the same feeling.
Following a season-long theme, Alleman failed to capitalize on two crucial scoring opportunities midway through the second half . Leaving two possible goals off the board sent the fourth-seeded Pioneers to a 3-1 loss against No. 2 Princeton in the Class 1A Alleman Regional championship match at McKenzie Field.
"It really stinks. It seems that we can never get a good bounce," Graham said. "It's the story of Alleman soccer. We really thought we had it."
Trailing 2-0 early in the second half, the Pioneers (9-12-2) converted their first scoring chance on the day when Angel Vargas redirected a corner kick into the net. With 35 minutes left in regulation, Alleman had the momentum and a manageable one-goal deficit.
The good vibes didn't last long.
Twice in the next 15 minutes, the Pioneers had their foot on the ball near the goal mouth and could not convert. Each time, Princeton keeper Miguel Austin made an initial point-blank save and the Pioneers could not gather the rebound. Both times, the Tigers (16-8) cleared the ball.
"The countless chances that we had, it's rough," said Alleman coach James Johannes, whose team lost to Princeton for the third time this season. "I don't think it's a lack of confidence — it's a lack of experience. Some of these guys don't find themselves in front of the net like that very often. We get cold feet sometimes, just a little nervous."
Austin stood strong when the pressure was there.
"He made some good stops," said Princeton assistant Rod Jaggers, coaching in the absence of Jason Bird.
Given two scoring chances in the first half, the Tigers did not flinch. Princeton converted two corner kicks into goals scored 21 minutes apart. Jacob Estrada broke a scoreless tie in the fourth minute when he settled a free ball on the left wing and buried a shot to the near post. In the 25th minute, Dylan Schaefer doubled the lead with a score from 10 yards out.
Both goals were scored off rebounds.
"That's how they score all their goals," Graham said. "Everything is rebound goals for them. We knew that coming in they were going to be strong off rebounds. We just had a few mental lapses."
The inability to overcome them led to this outcome.
"It's hard to put into words," Graham said. "Looking back at the chances we had, we were so close."
Today is Wednesday, July 30, the 211th day of 2014. There are 154 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: After Sept. 1, every small box of matches will be required to have a 3 cent duty Lincoln stamp on it, and every large box will be one cent for every 100 matches. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Rock Island residents had contributed a total of $1,293 to the American Red Cross for the Johnstown flood relief fund. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Capt. Clark Means, new darkhorse twirler for the ARGUS staff, was in great form in his initial contest as a mound laborer. The result was that THE ARGUS trimmed the Union 6-5. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Hunter and Humprey Moody, young Decatur, Ill, brothers, lack only a few hours of establishing a new world light plane endurance record. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Gates of the 110th annual Mercer County Fair swing open tonight at Aledo for a full week of day and night activity. More that $36,000 will be paid in premiums and race purses. 1989 -- 25 years ago: The baseball field carved out of the cornfield near Dyersville, Iowa, continues to keep dreams alive for hundreds of visitors. Tourists from 26 state and France have visited Dan Lansing's farm to see the baseball diamond seen in the hit movie "Field of Dreams."