Van Horn comeback attempt thwarted in sectional loss to Platte County
An emotional Zach Wilson didn't want to say goodbye to his Van Horn girls soccer team. They simply meant too much to the first-year head coach.
But following a hard-fought, well-played 3-2 sectional loss to visiting Platte County Tuesday night, he managed a smile and was able to talk about a memorable 18-5 season that exceeded even his lofty expectations.
"We came this close," Wilson said, holding his thumb and index finger close together, "to beating one of the premier teams in the state. I told our girls we're close – so close – to becoming a premier team and even though we lost tonight, we made a big step toward reaching that goal."
What might have been the most impressive aspect was the way the Falcons were able to maintain their composure after the Pirates' Ryanna Rhude opened the game with a goal just 58 seconds into the first half.
"They're a very good team, and we knew they were going to score sometime, but none of us expected it come that quickly," said first-year goalkeeper Erika Parrish, who starred in the net despite the final outcome. "We had to recover from that goal, and I think we did. But to me, their third goal was the biggest."
Hannah Stone scored in the 34th minute to give Platte County a 2-0 halftime lead, but sophomore Anya Linstrom scored one of the biggest goals of her young Falcons career as she made it a 2-1 game in the 71st minute.
But the Pirates showed their resiliency as leading scorer Riley Smith made it a 3-1 game less than a minute after Linstrom's goal.
"That just shows how good Platte County is," Parrish said. "We got a big goal and they came right back and scored, but we knew there was still some time left and we weren't finished."
Cordilia Payne drew a penalty in the box and Allie Christman converted the penalty kick in the 74th minute to again make it a one-goal game.
"We wanted to win – I'm not going to lie to you – but I could not be any prouder of our girls," Wilson said. "We don't have many year-round players who go to camps and clinics and things like that. Look at Erika - this is her first year in goal and we lose to one of the best teams in the state by a goal.
"It's so hard to say goodbye to our seniors, but we have so many great, young players coming back. And that makes this a little bit easier to deal with because I know we're going to come back strong next season."
Strong, and hungry.
"This gives us experience," Linstrom said. "Playing teams like this is amazing because it shows us how we can adapt to different situations. And I think we might have been a bit nervous because of the big crowd, but we appreciate our fans' support.
"But I know all I'm going to be thinking about is this loss – and we're going to learn from it and come back better than ever."