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Close loss for Monarch soccer

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

It's tough to win soccer matches if your team doesn't place shots on goal.

That was the problem for the Thomas More Prep-Marian girls' soccer team on Monday at TMP Field.

The Monarchs lost 1-0 in the first round of the Class 4-3-2-1A regional tournament to Ottawa.

It wasn't like TMP (4-8) didn't have opportunities to score. The possession was pretty even between the two teams, and TMP finished with eight shots.

But none were on goal.

"We didn't have a decent shot on goal the whole game," said TMP coach Darryl Wellbrock. "We were (shooting) all around it."

TMP played solid defense, but Ottawa (5-8-1) got its break just after halftime.

In the 47th minute, off a penalty kick from deep in its own territory, Ottawa launched the ball into TMP's half. Monarch sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Gustin ran out to collect it near the midway point of the field, but she lost the ball as she attempted to bring the ball to her feet.

With Gustin out of the box, Ottawa senior forward Morgan Fredricks attacked from the right and shot the ball into the open goal.

"We have been getting beat like this," Wellbrock said. "All the close games (this season) were like this. They'd get one lousy breakdown and shoot through with it and take advantage of it and score and end up one point ahead."

Wellbrock didn't blame Gustin for the goal. He said she was doing what she was supposed to do.

"I'm glad she's not being so timid that she would just sit back in her box, because in that situation, a good striker would have beat her anyway if she's not coming out," Wellbrock said.

Besides, Gustin made a ton of plays that kept TMP in the match, finishing with six saves.

For instance, in the 27th minute, Ottawa senior forward Cydney Lewis broke away behind TMP's back line.

Lewis appeared like she was going to score the go-ahead goal, but Gustin sprinted out and blocked Lewis' shot with outstretched hands, triggering a roar from the crowd who seemingly assumed Lewis was going to make it.

"I thought that was a done deal," Wellbrock said. "... I thought she was going to take advantage of us there, and Sarah did a really nice job of coming out and getting big and shut her down."

It was a disappointing end to a reinvigorating year. After several dismal seasons, TMP showed life in 2013.

The Monarchs' four wins were as many as the program compiled in the three previous seasons combined. TMP also set the new single-season scoring record with 26 goals and recorded its first mercy-rule victory in program history.

"Today just wasn't our day," Wellbrock said.

TMP had a squad loaded with underclassmen, and Wellbrock believes there are more on the way next season, which could help them with their scoring troubles.

"Maybe I'll get some of that next year and the years to come, and we'll go from there," he said.