AUGUSTA – On October 22, the Augusta Oriole soccer team lost to Wichita Trinity by a score of 3-1. In some ways, Augusta was fortunate to have been that close. In that contest, Trinity owned possession throughout and battered the Augusta goal with shot attempts. The Orioles only got two shots off for the entirety of the match.
The sides would once again face each other at Hillier Stadium on Saturday for the Class 4-1A Region 2 championship. Augusta got there by virtue of an 11-0 win over Circle on Thursday, while Trinity advanced after their semifinal opponent, Wichita Classical, had to forfeit to due to COVID-19 issues.
In this matchup, the Orioles overall played a much better game. They earned the ball on 50-50 opportunities and were able to put some pressure on the Knights’ goal, particularly in the first half. However, Trinity was able to strike early and late in the opening half to go in front, and then they controlled the ball in the second half which spurred them on to a 3-0 victory, ending one of the greatest seasons in Oriole soccer history. Augusta finished the 2020 campaign with a 13-4 record.
"It’s the highest winning percentage this program has ever seen," Augusta head coach Dusty Buell said afterwards. "I can’t be more proud of the team we have. "We’re going to lose a bunch of seniors, a bunch of leadership, and so that’s where the sadness comes today. It’s not the 3-0 loss; it’s knowing that I’m not going to be back on the field with those guys."
On a mild and windy day, the Orioles had the benefit of playing with the wind in the first half, and following a shaky start, they were able to make plays happen.
The Knights got on the board in the 5th minute when a free kick into the box was headed perfectly into the net by Colin Green.
"It was a beautiful ball in and it probably couldn’t have been stopped," Buell said.
After conceding early, the Orioles began playing with a sense of urgency. They turned the tide and began controlling the midfield and setting up scoring opportunities, mainly on the right side with forward Xander Roberts. Trinity keeper Alex Kirsten-Westgard saved three shots in the first half and the Orioles just couldn’t piece together a combination to score.
In the 36th minute, off another free kick, the ball came toward Augusta keeper Kyle Allman, but a miscommunication caused one of his teammates to go after the ball as well. The two collided and the loose ball was put home by Matt McDaniel for a 2-0 Knights lead.
"I think our guys probably played the best half of soccer they’ve played, in that first half," Buell said. "We had our opportunities, five or six that I can count in the first half that should’ve been in the back of the net."
Trinity nursed their lead well in the second half, controlling possession and they outshot the Orioles 9-0 in the final 40 minutes. Late in the match as Buell began sending more numbers forward, the Knights scored once more via Daniel McVay. The Knights improved to 11-6-1 and will take on Berean Academy next Tuesday for the right to advance to the state semifinals this upcoming weekend.
Buell reflected on the season his group had, and the successes they were able to have.
"Our successes will not be measured by state championships," he said. "It’s about the play of these kids, it’s about having a season altogether. We knew that it could be taken away at any time, getting to play regionals was just a bonus for us."
And, the head coach is fired up for what’s to come for his program.
"There are five or six guys on my bench that aren’t seniors that would start for over half the teams in our league," Buell said. "They’re ready. Let’s roll the ball out, we’re going to play anybody that wants to play, anytime, and my boys will be ready."
5’ – T – Colin Green
36’ – T – Matt McDaniel
74’ – T – Daniel McVay