DENVER - Soccer can be a cruel game.
In last week’s quarterfinals, Faith Christian was admittedly outplayed by The Classical Academy only to pull out a one-goal victory.
Last Wednesday, Kent Denver returned the favor.
That is the only way that the Eagles can look at their thrilling 1-1 (5-3) loss to the Sun Devils in a shootout after double overtime Wednesday at All City Field.
The 2011 boys’ soccer 3A state champion’s reign came to an end when Kent Denver, who was dominated for most of the action, found a way to steal a goal in the second half which tied the game and eventually sent it to a shootout where the Sun Devils prevailed 5-3.
“You could say it was stolen from us, but that is what can happen in games like this,” Faith Christian coach Will Lind said. “Did we out play them? Yes. Did they deserve to win? Yes. And they did.”
But it is how they did it that will leave a bad taste in the Eagles’ mouths.
After a scoreless first half where Faith Christian dominated most of the action including hitting the crossbar, they finally scored early in the second half when junior Stefan Knoerr - who earlier hit the crossbar - converted a goal off senior Liam Noone’s pass.
The Eagles continued to dominate tempo as well as possession and looking like they were on the verge of going to the state championship game. However, Faith Christian’s frosh net-minder made a rare mistake and kicked the ball off from just outside of his box late in the second half.
Kent Denver was awarded a free kick which they converted to tie the game and were able to hold off Faith Christian for the remainder of regulation and overtime, sending the contest into a shootout.
But Faith Christian junior Cameron Doody, one of the team’s best players the entire season, had his shot blocked by Kent Denver goalie Mark Seigal.
“We beat (The Classical Academy) in similar fashion (1-0 in the quarterfinals) to get to this point so I guess it might be a little karma,” Faith Christian Knoerr said. “Still no one thought we could get to this point now we have to turn the karma back in our favor and come back and get it done next year.”
Faith Christian’s experience may also be a blessing in disguise because the Eagles had no business getting to the state semifinals considering they lost 6 of their 11 starters from their title team and they start a freshman goaltender.
But karma built from practice, experience, playing the right way and just plain hustle drove Faith Christian past the state’s No. 1 seed The Classical Academy, propelling them to the final four and nearly past Kent Denver.
“We had a great season. We were beat up early in our schedule but came out better for it and although we lost so much from last year’s team I think these guys were good enough to win it this year,” Lind said. “We will use this and come back next year stronger.”
And while Faith Christian’s players are crushed after coming so close to repeating, they know that next season’s team sets up to be perhaps one of their best in school history. The Eagles have 19 members of their varsity team returning next season.