Mustangs fall short in semifinals again

By PATRICK MacCOON
Posted 5/9/18

Attack after attack.Shot after shot.The Walker Valley Mustangs seemingly had McMinn County's Cherokees right where they wanted them in the District 5-AAA semifinals.With an 18-3 shot advantage, even …

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Mustangs fall short in semifinals again

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Attack after attack.

Shot after shot.

The Walker Valley Mustangs seemingly had McMinn County's Cherokees right where they wanted them in the District 5-AAA semifinals.

With an 18-3 shot advantage, even an 8-1 shot on goal lead, the attack for the Mustangs was a dangerous one

The only problem was there was no comfort room, as Sam McDonald had the lone score by the end of the first half, off a deflected cross by Kevin Lopez in the box. The 1-nil lead would not stand.

McMinn County shocked the regular season district champions by scoring three goals from the 16:30 to 9:38 minutes of the second half, off a pair of one-on-one breakaways and a stellar cross. 

Despite being outshot 21-7 and allowing nine corner kicks, the Cherokees played the spoiler role and fought their way to the district championship, winning the match 3-1.

For Walker Valley (7-5), a third straight stellar season ended with a shocking letdown in the district semifinals

"I am heartbroken for our boys and supporters," said WVHS head coach Tom Bayliss. "We played a very attractive and strong style of soccer tonight, but in the end our finishing let us down. One goal is never enough."

McMinn will play Cleveland for the district championship this Thursday at the Mouse Creek Soccer Complex at 7 p.m.

With 31 wins over the past three seasons, all but one have come in the regular season for the Mustangs.

For a program still in search of its first 5-AAA tournament championship, the Cherokees have been the spoilers two of the past three years.

In a match in which Kevin Lopez, Chase Foster, Adrian Franco, David Perez and McDonald unleashed several strong attacks on goal, a breakthrough could not be found.

The crossbar robbed Walker Valley of goals off the foot of Foster and Leo Arntz late in the second half, while several strong goalie saves prevented other goals.

McMinn County (6-9-1) made the most of its limited opportunities and its first score deflected off the keeper's feet and bounced in.

Just two minutes later the go-ahead score was landed and would not be lost.

"The momentum swung and we couldn't get it back," Bayliss said. "It's very disappointing, but overall another season of quality soccer with a great group of boys. I am proud of them and thankful for the opportunity to be a small part of their lives."

McDonald finished the season with 10 scores and made his presence felt on the soccer pitch with a talented group of teammates.

With another premature postseason finish, another long offseason is in store for the Mustangs.

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