The Blazers came up short against the Sherwood Warriors in the final regionals game of the season
On Nov. 2, the Blair Blazers (12-3) lost to the Sherwood Warriors (9-6) in a suspenseful game that ended with a nail-biting penalty shoot-out. The final score was 5-6. Though the Blazers were disappointed by the loss, they agreed that their season went well overall and are optimistic for a good season next year.
The night was chilly and the bleachers were still wet from the rain earlier in the afternoon. Spectators, from both Blair and Sherwood, were visibly excited to see which school would stake claim to the title of regional champion. Sherwood players made it to Blair’s defensive side within the first minute of the game, wasting no time to move the ball as close to their goal area as possible.
The Warriors had possession of the ball for long stretches of times, and Blair offensive players scrambled to intercept passes. Most of these attempts, however, were either unsuccessful or futile, as Sherwood offensive players took the ball back quickly. When Blazers did manage to move the ball away from their opponent’s goal area, the Warriors would usually steal the ball before they could even cross the centerline.
Towards the end of the first half, the Blazers were able to break through the Warriors’ defense and made two attempts to score. Both were incredibly close, but not successful. By the last ten minutes of the first half, they had finally moved the majority of play to the offensive side of the field.
The second half was marked by multiple penalties and injuries on both teams. Again, Sherwood players moved quickly and established control over the field early on. At 36 minutes, a Sherwood player attempted to score a goal. But goalkeeper Mandy Mozer blocked it, and kicked the ball to Blair players on the opposite side of the field.
Sherwood’s defensive players tactfully lobbed passes when surrounded by clusters of Blair players desperate to make a goal. Throughout the game, players on both teams stumbled and tripped over one another; in hopes of stealing the ball, more players had begun to play aggressively. The aggression of the Warriors was only fueled by disgruntled spectators screaming in the stands.
Within the last four minutes of the game, the Warriors made two close shots at the goal in rapid succession, but Mozer’s quick reflexes saved the Blazers. As neither team had scored, the game was extended with ten minutes of overtime. After no goals were scored then either, another ten minutes of play commenced. The Blazers clearly dominated the field and had much better control of the ball during overtime, yet the Warriors did not give them an opportunity to score. A penalty-shoot at the very end resulted in the Blazers’ loss, by a margin of only one point.
Captain Alli O'Neal-Freeman expressed disappointment over the loss, but acknowledged her teammates’ best efforts. “I thought we got off to a slow start, but then we started playing as we usually do and fighting for every ball. We had a lot of opportunities. We really had a close one. Penalty kicks were so close, so it really just came down to luck.” Freeman said.
Captain Magda Goles also commented on the team’s performance throughout the season. “Going into the penalties is just a tossup, and luck was just not on our side tonight. But, I’m really proud of this team and I'm proud of everything that we have accomplished. We have had the best chemistry, and I’m really happy that I got to work with this group of girls,” Goles said. “This was an amazing season. This is such a good group of girls,” O'Neal-Freeman agreed.
Maya Britto. Hey, I'm Maya (she/her) and this year, I am co-Editor-in-chief of SCO! I'm passionate about social justice, music, dance, food, quality time with my friends, ice cream (but strictly vanilla), and good bad jokes. Stay cool, y'all. :) More »