Heading into Tuesday's soccer game with Pottsville, Jim Thorpe didn't care what its record was.
The Olympians didn't mind that they had come up short in all of their previous soccer games. No, they were going to put all of their heart into this one game on this one day - Senior Day.
Jim Thorpe came out strong and took a 1-0 lead midway through the first half thanks to a goal from Ritchie Buele. The Olympians battled as best as they could for the remainder of the game, but allowed a goal late in the second half and another early into double overtime to fall to the Crimson Tide, 2-1.
"I thought we played pretty well," said Jim Thorpe head coach Anthony Dixon. "We hustled the whole game and we were in it until the end.
"The kids have really come along. They have made a lot of progress since the beginning of the year. That is the only thing I could ask of a team as young as us."
Jim Thorpe senior Mitch Franko had a nice look at the net just minutes into the game but was turned away by Pottsville goalie Luke DiCello. DiCello denied Franko again roughly 10 minutes later on a point-blank shot. Franko had picked up a loose ball on the right side of the Crimson Tide net, but didn't have a good enough angle to get it past DiCello.
Following a send-in by a Jim Thorpe mid-fielder, DiCello was forced to come out of the net and make a play on the ball because an Olympian forward was bearing down to make a play. DiCello was able to punch the ball out, but it went right to Buele. Buele send a high-arcing shot over the head of DiCello for the goal.
While its offense was busy applying pressure on its end, Jim Thorpe's defense was playing just as well. Sophomore Shane Bletcher-Otto exemplified their play by making a sliding block to prevent an open shot. He, along with sophomore Dalton Becker and freshmen Caleb Heller and Billy Sterling, played so well that goalie Justin Kaminski didn't have to make his first save until 13:56 remained in the first half.
"The defense played very well," Dixon said. "They tightened up and that is one of the best games they have played all season.
"They are learning. A lot of them are freshman and sophomores and they are learning every week. They are getting there."
Kaminski did his best to preserve the lead in the second half as he made a leaping, one-handed save at the twenty minute mark. He ended with ten saves on the day.
Pottsville picked up its offensive pressure throughout the second half and finally broke through with eight minutes to go. Shavinsky Thomas scored a goal much like Buele's and knotted the score at one. Kaminski came out to make a play on a loose ball, but Thomas got to it first and tapped it over his head for the goal.
The Tide continued to press on offense as the game ventured into overtime. They would record six shots in 11 minutes and 19 seconds of extra play, with their last shot being the game-winner in double overtime. Thomas, who stands well of six-foot, put away a header off a corner-kick from teammate Kory Fanelli.
Jim Thorpe will play its last game of the season at Upper Dauphin on Thursday. Dixon acknowldged that not much can come out of their last game, but still wants his team to have fun as they look toward next season.
"Obviously with one game left I want the kids to just enjoy themselves," said the first-year head coach. "Then next year we will work and try to improve. I think next year we will start winning a few games.
"I am definitely excited about our future. I am going to be here for a while and these boys are coming along very well."