Sequoyah all but watched its hopes of a region soccer title dashed when East Hamilton scored a goal to go up 2-0 in the waning minutes last Thursday.
In a match where scoring was few and far between, the goal would prove to be the final nail that allowed the Chiefs to finish as runners-up in region play in the 2-0 loss to the visiting Hurricanes.
Under the sweltering May heat, the match was full of momentum swings, with each team having opportunities to go ahead throughout the contest. In the end, it was East Hamilton that was able to take advantage.
For Sequoyah head coach Manuel Orozco, missing out on its own opportunities is what plagued his team.
“In soccer, they say, ‘Goals not scored are goals against,’” Orozco said. “We had a ton of opportunities and (East Hamilton) had a couple of them and they scored. That’s how soccer is. They deserve to be champions.”
In the first half alone, the Chiefs attempted a total of eight shots, five of which came off of the foot of Jose Almanza, who recorded two goals in Sequoyah’s win over East Ridge just two days before.
In all, the Chiefs recorded 16 shots on goal, many of which sailed just to the left or right of the goal that would have given them the lead, or tied the game late in the second half.
After a scoreless first half, the Hurricanes were able to break the stalemate with less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation to pull ahead 1-0.
“The first goal, it was just a situation where the guy was able to get cleared,” Orozco said. “They got the ball through and No. 27, he’s an awesome athlete, was just able to get into the back of the net.”
Down by one, Almanza immediately went down to the other end of the field and had an open look, once again missing by just a few feet to the right on what would have been the tying score.
A few minutes later, Brady Hooper, who had previously exited the match with an apparent head injury, appeared to have a chance to score when East Hamilton’s goalkeeper fell, but wasn’t able to set his feet by the time the goalkeeper had recovered.
With just over three minutes left, the Hurricanes put the match away with their second goal to preserve the win and lay claim to the region title.
“Everyone who stayed on the field deserves my applause,” Orozco said of his team. “Everyone who came off the bench deserves my applause. I’m talking about players that get little playing time and stepped up for us in a regional championship game.”
Since Sequoyah finished as runners-up, the loss did not end the Chiefs’ season. Sequoyah instead traveled to Loudon to play in a sectional elimination game on Saturday.
Orozco hoped the loss would serve as motivation as the Chiefs looked to keep their postseason aspirations alive, especially against a Loudon program they are all too familiar with.
“We should come out fired up,” Orozco said. “We were put out last year in the same situation and hopefully they will learn and want more from this.”