Despite out-shooting Jesuit 17-7 and controlling much of the second half, the Lakeridge boys' soccer season ended on Tuesday 2-0 at the hands of the Crusaders.
Jesuit played stingy defense for much of the night as, of those 17 shots, only three were on goal and, once the Crusaders took an early lead, they proved tough to overcome.
The game took an unfortunate bounce for the Pacers just over 10 minutes into the contest.
Jesuit's Sean Dripps was knocked down in the goal box as a long pass was sent in and an early penalty kick was awarded. Danny Maeda then easily scored the shot to stake his team to a quick 1-0 advantage.
'That was huge. They were given a gift and they did well with it,' Pacer coach Paul Slover said.
Most of Lakeridge's chances in the first half came on dangerous throw-ins by Benton Souers. Souers, a junior defender, proved to be a valuable offensive weapon, sending a handful of dangerous throws into the goal box.
And while the Crusaders had difficulty clearing those throws, the Pacers failed to come up with many clean shots off of them either.
'It was a little frustrating not to connect on those because (Souers) gave us so many opportunities,' Slover said.
Lakeridge's Connor Dales had a pair of strong shots in the first half that narrowly missed and John Martin and Tyler Abegg each sent shots over the top of the net as well.
With 12:52 to play in the half, Jesuit got the ball deep in Lakeridge territory again.
This time Jesuit's Peter Maletis made a nice feed and Tyler Collins sent a perfectly placed header into the back of the net. The score was 2-0 at the half and, against a team as defensively solid as the Crusaders are, it didn't bode well.
But the Pacers dominated the scoring chances in the second half. Lakeridge came close to cutting the deficit in half when the Jesuit goalie was drawn away from the net and the Pacers' Patrick Kelly won the ball on the right side of the field.
He got off a shot at the open net from a difficult angle that rolled just a few feet wide.
Minutes later, Bennett Savage headed a pass from Micah Joyner that was barely saved over the top of the net.
Savage also had a strong shot from long distance that was volleyed over the crossbar.
'I thought we did everything we could have to get back in the game. There were a couple of shots that I thought for sure were going in,' Slover said.
The final 10 minutes were played at a frenetic pace as Lakeridge continued to threaten. Nick Wilkins knocked a hard shot over the top and John Martin hit a rocket that was just tipped over the net.
'We didn't let them up much. I thought we had it on their side for the majority of the second half,' Slover said.
Lakeridge's last good chance of the game came on a close range shot by Bruno Perez that was deflected.
Jesuit did a nice job eating up the clock late in the game and survived to move on to the quarterfinals.
For Lakeridge, it marked the end of a very successful season. After losing a handful of superstars, the Pacers entered the fall perhaps as underdogs for the first time in years but still managed to win the Three Rivers League.
'I thought we had a great year. I hope the guys can enjoy this after a few days,' Slover said.