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, Sept. 16, the 259th day of 2014. There are 106 days left in the year.
1864 — 150 years ago: A fine lumber mill is on the course of erection at Andalusia. A flouring mill at that location is doing a fine business. 1889 — 125 years ago: J.B. Lidders, past captain of Beardsley Camp, Sons of Veterans, returned from Paterson, N.Y., where he attended the National Sons of Veterans encampments. 1914 — 100 years ago: President Wilson announced that he had received from the imperial chancellor of Germany a noncommittal reply to his inquiry into a report that the emperor was willing to discuss terms of peace. 1939 — 75 years ago: Delegates at the Illinois Conference of the Methodist Church in Springfield voted to raise the minimum pay of ministers so that every pastor would get at least $1,000 annually. 1964 — 50 years ago: An audience of more than 2,600 persons jammed into the Davenport RKO Orpheum theater with a shoe horn feasted on a Miller-Diller evening that was a killer night. Phyllis Diller sent the audience with her offbeat humor. And send them she did! It was Miss Diller's third appearance in the Quad-Cities area. 1989 — 25 years ago: A few years ago, a vacant lot on 7th Avenue and 14th Street in Rock Island was a community nuisance. Weeds grew as high 18 inches. Today, the lot has a new face, thanks to Michael and Sheila Rind and other neighbors who helped them turn it into a park three weeks ago.