Ads take first region loss

Published 6:23 am Tuesday, October 23, 2018

NICHOLASVILLE — Sometimes the ending doesn’t fit the narrative.

That was the story Saturday in Nicholasville, where Danville’s boys soccer team lost 3-0 against Southwestern in the 12th Region championship.

It was the first region loss of the year for Danville (19-2-1) and against a team it had beaten on the road by two goals early in the year.

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“There was nothing to say. I just told them that I loved them, I was proud of them,” Danville head coach Brent Beauman said. “I appreciate their hard work, them as people and how they made this such an easy year. There was no real drama, no real stress, just soccer. They all love the game and the team so much. It sucks to lose, it hurts, it’s not supposed to be like that. But that’s what happens.”

Danville was playing without starting defensive midfielder Sam Brunner, who was shown a red card in the 12th Region semifinal game against Somerset.

It was just the third game that Brunner had missed this season, and it was an important absence for the Admirals in the midfield against a team that wanted to play vertical.

“Of course Sam would’ve made a difference,” Beauman said. “Not only is he a great player but everybody is used to him being there, then you’ve got new people playing different spots, all that.”

The Admirals started freshman Keegyn Wilcher on the left and moved Briar Sanders back to a holding midfielder role to accommodate the change.

And Beauman would continue to tinker with lineups throughout the game, playing Spencer Updike in an attacking midfielder role as well.

“Keegyn has been playing really well towards the end of the season and it’s just been hustle,” Beauman said. “I knew when we played the teams that we played, hustle is what we’d need, someone to be a spark. That’s what he did. Spencer, he’s a really good player. When he gets the ball he can cross it, he can make a pass or take a shot. We can always count on Spencer to do whatever he can.”

But the Admirals couldn’t string enough passes together on a rough playing surface after last week’s rain and struggled to adapt to the wind.

Southwestern would score its first goal just four minutes into the second half. The shot was taken from well outside the box and curled into the top right corner of the net, thanks to the wind.

“The wind definitely had a huge factor, you couldn’t really hit long diagonal switches or crosses,” Beauman said. “Then goal kicks, corner kicks, everything was coming short.”

As Danville continued to press, Southwestern’s defense did just enough and opened the Admirals to counterattack. The Warriors would score two more goals in the second half to put the game away.

It was an uncharacteristic end to the Admirals’ best season since 2011, when the Admirals were regional champions.

“I told them before the game, you’re in the regional championship,” Beauman said. “Enjoy it, soak it in, enjoy the moment. Now, you can’t be thinking about ‘what if I did this or that.’ Of course I’ll do it too, but it doesn’t matter.”

Danville’s 19 wins were the most for the team since 2010, another regional championship year.

For Beauman’s seniors — Angel Alavez, Jesus Ayala, Nathan Hazlett, Alec McAlister, Spencer Updike, Tres Walker and JoSeth Warner — it was a tough ending to a career-best year.

“They have been a part of the bad years and they’ve been a part of the good years,” Beauman said of his seniors. “They wanted to get Danville back to being a district champion and regional contender. They had a good shot to have a long postseason. We had a lot of hurdles today to overcome. But nothing was bouncing our way, this or that. Being at a small school, you have a core of players that are so good at soccer. Those guys just own it and we’ve talked all postseason about how we didn’t want it to end.”