The celebration of the class of 2019 boys soccer players was dampened when the Vernon Hills Cougars pulled the cat out of the bag with a goal in the waning minutes of the second half. What had been a defensive game for the majority of the first half evolved into a shootout when both teams erupted offensively and put up a combined five goals in the second 40 minutes of play.
In the spirit of Senior Night, the Scouts started all ten of their senior players. They made their presence felt early in the first half.
The Cougars had the first opportunity to score when a long shot bounced around the LFHS box. The potential crisis was averted when senior defender Will Davis had a last gasp clearance off the end line that saved a goal.
The Scouts had their first chance early in the first half, when senior forward, Thomas Cutting, had a chance on goal in the 19th minute. The Cougar goalkeeper was just barely able to tap the hard shot above the crossbar and out for a LFHS corner which the Scouts were unable to convert.
Both teams solidified on defense after the beginning opportunities and refused to allow anymore serious threats on goal. Scouts junior, midfielder Jackson Meadow, had a shot in the 31st minute, but it missed wide of the net.
The Cougars struck first in the second half when senior goalkeeper Colton Pfeiffer made a rare mistake on a hard shot from a streaking Vernon Hills forward. The ball just slipped through his hands and into the back of the net.
The Cougars scored again in the 58th minute on a breakaway on the left side. The Scouts were on the verge of being embarrassed in front of their largest audience of the season.
However, the Scouts did not go down quietly.
Scouts captain, senior defender Aved Markarian, had the ball down in the corner in the 63rd minute, when he hit a long cross into the Vernon Hills penalty box. The Cougar keeper misjudged the ball and let it over his head where junior forward Matt Birtman was waiting for it at the back post.
He headed it into the corner of the goal to halve the Scouts’ deficit.
Three minutes later the Scouts were deep in Cougar territory again, and this time junior forward OJ Singhal would be the one to score. Following a muffed catch by the Vernon Hills goalkeeper, Singhal gracefully collected the rebound and slotted it between the diving keeper and the near post.
“Both are younger guys who have worked really hard this season and I think both the goals exemplified that work ethic,” Davis said after the game. “Matt’s was a back post run that he stuck with and OJ showed his patience and composure by slotting the ball right in between the near post and the goalie.”
The Scouts had tied the game, with plenty of time to put in the deciding goal. Vernon Hills had the same amount of time to rain on the Scouts’ parade.
With four minutes left in the game, the Scouts again had the ball and were attacking the Cougar goal. A missed pass just outside the Vernon Hills box gave the ball to the Cougars and started a 90 yard sprint across the field. With all of their players itching to score the game winning goal, the Scouts were caught way out of position and unprepared to stop the Vernon Hills breakaway.
The same Cougar who stole the ball scored the deciding goal on the opposite end of the field.
The Scouts didn’t have enough time to respond, and the game clock expired with the score an extremely disappointing 3-2.
The Scouts have one more regular season match against Glenbrook North on Thursday. Then they are home to start the playoffs at LFHS varsity field at 12:30, when they play Palatine High School in the first round.
Stat of the Day: The Scouts committed five offside penalties Tuesday night. While some of these can be chalked up to questionable on field calls, others certainly ended potential goal opportunities. The Scouts will look to limit these misplays in order to maximize their chances to score.