It the sport of soccer, especially in the playoffs, one goal can make the difference between losing and living to play another day.
One goal was all Parkland needed to end Pleasant Valley's season on Wednesday, as the Trojans knocked off the Lady Bears 1-0 on a rain-soaked turf. Parkland's Camille Roberts scored with 8:58 remaining in the first half and eventually pushed her team into the second round of the District 11 playoffs. It is the first time since 2008 that the Bears have been eliminated from the playoffs in their very first game.
"We played (Parkland) earlier in the season and we knew that they were strong in the middle," said Pleasant Valley head coach Tim Hinton. "Their forwards possess the ball well, so we knew we had to play a little more defensively. It wasn't to just hold them off and cut down on their number of chances, but to help keep our numbers matched up with theirs in the middle and hopefully start our attack.
"Every one of their players is technically sound. You don't see that every game coming up through the season. We knew they played fast and in control. We knew they were going to come in strong, but I think we proved that we can hang with them."
The first 15 minutes of the game were played in a torrential downpour. Still, Parkland (13-5-1) controlled most of the play and maintained possession on Pleasant Valley's half of the field. It showed in the stats as the Trojans had eight first-half shots to the Bears' two. The Bears didn't record their first shot until the 12:30 mark.
Parkland's pressure finally paid off on its fourth corner of the half. Kelsey Matika sent a beautiful corner kick to the back post of the Pleasant Valley net. Camille Roberts leaped and headed the ball into the back of the net for the game's only goal.
"Earlier when we played them, they scored four goals on us on back-post corners," Hinton said. "I told my girls coming in that we needed to sure up our back post, but they are good for that reason. They are accurate with their crosses and they can finish."
The Trojans then dropped as many as seven players back defensively in the second half and denied every Pleasant Valley push. The Bears did not record a single shot in the final 40 minutes, while Parkland continued to attack with nine shots of its own.
Pleasant Valley also played without one of its main contributors in midfielder Maggie Patterson. Patterson was out with concussion symptoms, after being hurt in the Mountain Valley Conference championship game a few days earlier.
"That was another reason we had to switch back a little more," said Hinton. "Not only does she win balls, but she creates havoc in the middle. She controls 90 percent of the stuff for us. Without her we knew we would have to make up for that loss and sure up the middle."
The Bears end their 2011 campaign with a 15-5 overall record. Hinton was emotional afterwards since he had coached his current group of seniors since seventh grade. Nevertheless, he tried to look on the bright side of things.
"Its tough to lose your last two games," said Hinton. "Obviously we didn't plan it that way. But we have to remember that we put up 15 wins again for the third year in a row. That is something to be proud of. Not many teams can say that.
"I am proud of my girls. They came out and played hard today. They have to remember those good times. We did have a successful season."