By Shane Theodore
The Oak Ridge soccer team’s Senior Night match was spoiled by visiting Folsom Wednesday. The Trojans fell to the Bulldogs 3-1.
“We played really well tonight but just didn’t have enough to beat them,” Trojan coach Henry Reis said.
Pre-game festivities for the seniors who took the pitch for the last time in their prep career included Oak Ridge junior Grace Benguerel’s beautiful rendition of the national anthem.
The special night honored David Item, Kyle Dickinson, Kevin Uhrik, Roger Blum, Chase Hester, Chris Hoversten, Sean Woldberg, Nico Lionakis, Ben Schowengerdt, Zach Baglin and Tanner Bacci during halftime.
The actual game wasn’t quite as pretty. The game turned physical early and deteriorated into a display of poor shots. Bulldog Roberto Garcia broke the barrier, slipping in the first goal of the match in the 16th minute with a shot that eluded Item, Troy’s goalie.
“We played well, but (Garcia) made some great moves and the shot caught me off guard,” Item said. “We really played harder than usual to try to get a win in our last game.”
It got ugly a little later when Trojan Kyle Dickinson took a hard shot in the ribs from a Bulldog, hit the ground and suffered a concussion. He was transported to the emergency room at halftime.
Chase Hester evened the score in the 36th minute on an assist from Ryan Chung.
“(Chung) made a great pass on the ball and Chase slipped it in, giving our team a huge boost,” Reis said.
Folsom retook the lead nine minutes into the second half with a punch over Item, who leapt up for the save but couldn’t get a hand on the ball.
Even after an argument between the teams resulted in the ejection of a Bulldog that gave Oak Ridge a one-player advantage, the Trojans couldn’t find a way to crack Folsom’s defense. Garcia added an insurance goal for Folsom late in the game.
“We like how we played but it sure hurts to lose our last game,” Item said.
Adjusting to Division I has been hard for both the Oak Ridge and Ponderosa soccer teams. The Bruins lost Wednesday to Jesuit, the No. 1 team in the state and the same squad Oak Ridge fell to Monday.
It’s been a tough season for both county teams after years of being very competitive at the Division II level. Adding to the pain was the loss of two top players — one from each team — after they left mid-season to play club soccer. The club mandated they could not continue competing for their high school teams.
But Reis is optimistic about the future. “We have a lot of really good sophomores and juniors who will be playing next year and while it may not seem that way, this loss is the best way to end our season.”