Photos by Kurt Howard
Jake Degagne of Kennedy Catholic kicks it in for a goal.

SLIDESHOW: Lakeside lead holds up against Lancers

By Ed Shepherd
SPORTS CORRESPONDENT

Kennedy Catholic's Lancers gave up two goals in the first half they could not overcome, losing, 2-1, to Lakeside in a loser-out Class 3A boys state quarterfinal soccer game on the Highline Memorial Stadium turf Saturday.

"We had the momentum in the second half," said Teddy Mitalas, Lancers head coach, to his players after the game.

The Lancers, who finished their season 14-2-5 and were the Seamount League champions, had their way with the Metro League champion Lions (14-2-2) in the second half, outshooting them, 9-2.

The first-half goals by the Lions gave that team's players confidence as described by their coach, Mark Szabo.

"Everyone gets excited when you score, it settles you down, too," said Szabo.

The Lancers did fight tooth and nail in the second half. They took shot after shot after shot that was either saved by Lions keeper Jake Betcher or just didn't quite get to the net because of a Lions defense that mostly kept the Lancers from taking too many close-in shots.

"We did enough," said Szabo.

Two minutes into the second half, the barrage of shots started to come for the Lancers.

Lancers midfielder James Vair knocked a pass over defenders' heads into the 18-yard box to start things off, with that leading to a Lions defender having to kick the ball over the end line for a Lancers corner kick try.

Off the corner kick by Colin Giles, Vair volleyed a shot over the crossbar from 12 yards out. Five minutes later, from the left side, just inside the 18-yard box, Lancer forward Colin Cossette dribbled the ball nicely before pivoting and letting loose a rocket of a shot near-post that an average keeper might not have handled cleanly. However, Betcher, the Metro League's Most Valuable Player, gobbled that Cossette shot up as well as another blast two minutes later from the same area of the field.

Colin Giles took a direct free kick from 20 yards out on the left side for the Lancers five minutes later -- 12 minutes into the second half. Giles' kick was hammered over all of the defenders, left-to-right, rocketing toward the far post, upper corner. But, again, Betcher's skills became on display as he soared high off his feet and twisted his body athletically and punched the blast over the crossbar.

"He's a great keeper," said Szabo.

The Lancers' next scoring try came just four minutes later and it was one one of the best of the afternoon. Giles took a free kick from 35 yards out and this time the ball floated into the middle of the 18-yard box area. After bouncing around, it went to Peterson and he blasted the ball from right in front of what looked like an open goal . But it was only open for a second as Betcher was right there in the commotion, stabbing at the ball with feet flailing. Peterson's shot was deflected just over the goal.

"He made a great save," said Peterson.

Then, finally, with 19 minutes to go in the game, the Lancers' first 20 minutes of constant pressure paid off.

The Lancers scored when Giles took a corner kick that went into the middle of the six-yard box with Jake Degagne sending it on in to cut the Lions' lead to 2-1.

With eight minutes left in the game and desperation starting to settle in, the Lancers nearly scored as Giles floated a ball over the defenders' heads into the 18-yard box for a Lancer forward to run onto it and have a one-on-one with Betcher. But the play was called offsides by the referee.

One last real good scoring chance came for the Lancers with two minutes left. Giles took another corner kick and this time he placed it over Betcher's outstretched hands and Peterson was there running in for the ball, jumping high, facing an open goal. Peterson did get his head on it but it was not on the sweet spot of his forehead and, consequently, the ball sailed over the crossbar.

"A little too high," said Peterson.

Mitalas reflected to his players one last time after the game.
"You will remember this game," said Mitalas. "Just hard when some teams have special players. We all would like to go to the final four. But, you've had a great season. You're still champions."

The Lancers players are Colin Cossette, Ben Davidson, Jake Degagne, Colin Giles, Oliver Hamlin, Alex Harms, Josh Harms, Abrel Luna, Griffin Mathews, Brian McGinley, Aviyan Medina, Francisco Mercado, Kyle Peterson, Will Prothero, Sawyer Ramsey, Aaron Rosel, Keagon Spadoni-Varden, Simon Thomas, Leyton Thommasen, Nathaniel Tolton, James Vair, Jake Swaller, Cole Carden.

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