Augusta Preparatory Day School and Trinity Christian had just staged one of the most exciting soccer matches imaginable, but for Lady Cavaliers' coach Doug Williamson, the final score was all that mattered Saturday at Blanchard Field.
Despite a torrid comeback by Prep, Trinity took a 6-5 overtime triumph, and Williamson took the blame for the Region 4-AAA defeat.
"Bad coaching. I haven't taught them how to hold a lead yet," Williamson said. "We're young and inexperienced; that's why I say bad coaching. It's my job to teach them, and I feel like I let them down."
After starting the 2002 season with three straight wins, Augusta Prep suffered a setback in back-to-back home matches last week. Region opponent Frederica Academy rolled over Prep 4-1 on Friday, then the Lady Cavaliers dropped to 0-2 in the region with Saturday's loss.
Augusta Prep trailed Trinity 1-0 at the half. At that point, Williamson had seen enough lacklustre play, so he issued a challenge.
"At halftime we told them they had to make a choice, right now, on how good they want to be," he said. "They made a good choice - they came out and played hard."
Freshman forward Rachel Gerstein started things with a sideline run and a cross to Katelyn Gibbs, who tallied the equalizer. Augusta Prep took a 2-1 lead, as Rebecca Smith won a header, then fed an assist to Gerstein.
Trinity countered with a penalty kick, but Prep responded - Smith threaded a pass through defenders, and Gibbs took the ball on one-touch and found the net.
Less than 30 second later, the Lady Crusaders knotted the match at 3-3 on a corner kick. Then, with under five minutes remaining, Trinity went up 4-3.
The action was just getting started - Smith and Callie Sadler each scored in less than a minute to give Prep a 5-4 edge. "They came back and showed tremendous character, poise and intensity, which is what we asked them to do at halftime," Williamson said.
With time running out in regulation, Trinity had one final chance, and midfielder Meryll Davis made the most of it. From 40 yards out, she sent a direct kick screaming across the goal mouth and into the net to force overtime.
During the two 10-minute OT periods, Augusta Prep ran out of miracles. Trinity's Donna Evans won the ball on the wing and scored the game winner.
Even with the two region losses, Augusta Prep already has matched its win total from the 2001 campaign. Also, with nine freshmen on his roster, Williamson knows the potential is there.
"We've got to learn more about the game. They've worked very hard so far," he said. "We're inexperienced but we will get better, I'm convinced."
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