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 Tuesday, March 11, the 70th day of 2014. There are 295 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Much damage is being done by hogs that are running at large about town. The marshal will take them up and sell them if their owners do not contain them. 1889 -- 125 years ago: George Newberry, Daniel Strecker, Al Webb and James Dixon returned from a voyage down the Mississippi River as far as Memphis, Tenn., on a flat. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Augustana College was put out of the running for the state collegiate basketball title when defeated by Millikin. The Viking lineup included Sten, Samuelson and Swanbeck, forwards, and Holtgren, Johnson and Berg, guards. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The coronation of Pope Pius XII and preliminary ceremonies were broadcast by WHBF on the Mutual Radio Network. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Reactivation of a portion of the J.I. Case Co, plant in Rock Island as a supplier for component parts for the firm's manufacturing centers at Racine, Wis., or Burlington, Iowa, is under consideration. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Downtown Moline business owners will have a chance to help shape the city's future through a survey being done by the Bi-State Metropolitan Planning Commission.