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 Saturday, Aug. 30, the 242nd day of 2014. There are 123 days left in the year.
1864 — 150 years ago: A large pair of elk, captured in Iowa, were exhibited in Market Square today. 1889 — 125 years ago: The Rock Island Arsenal dam was being constructed under the supervision of Charles Frances, of Lowell, Mass. 1914 — 100 years ago: Mrs. Frank Mixer, of Rock Island, was the winner of the final preliminary for the women's handicap golf cup at Rock Island arsenal links. 1939 — 75 years ago: Sixteen hundred persons — many from war-fearful Europe — arrived in New York aboard the German liner Bremen. For two days on the trip, passengers were cut off from the world with both incoming and outgoing radio messages banned. 1964 — 50 years ago: Police reported five youths have been involved in the theft of about seven cars in recent weeks. Three of the youths were arrested Saturday afternoon, one was in custody as the result of a previous arrest, and the fifth is expected to be arrested today. 1989 — 25 years ago: The Rock Island/Milan School Board is asking the city to tear down Franklin School and allow the school district to pay back the estimated $100,00 cost during 10 years.