GAINESVILLE — Despite his young team not being able to make more history Wednesday night, Lakeview Academy girls soccer coach Nathan Wallace had nothing but praise for his Lady Lions after a disappointing 4-1 loss to Holy Innocents’ in the quarterfinal round of the Class A Private playoffs.
Lakeview (12-5) came into the match looking for its first-ever semifinal appearance. And despite taking a quick 1-0 lead just seven minutes in, the Lady Lions could not hold on.
“We got the early goal and things were really looking good I thought,” Wallace said. “I thought we played right with them for most of the first half.”
Lakeview forced the action early getting several midfield steals to try and set up scoring chances. The Lady Bears countered with long balls over the Lady Lions defense for some quick strikes.
But it was the Lady Lions that would get the first break as freshman Millie Filson started a nifty break and fed fellow freshman Sara Nivens, who buried a shot past Holy Innocents’ keeper Abbie Reams for the early lead.
Lakeview continued to press over the next 17 minutes with a trio of corners but could not get a clean shot.
It seemed to be all Lady Bears from there. Holy Innocents’ began to push forward over the final 15 minutes of the first half. They were rewarded when Caroline Belisle stole a Lakeview throw-in and fed Emily Grasing on a beautiful cross that Grasing slid past Lakeview keeper Celia Wilson-Patino to tie the game in the 28th minute.
Lakeview had two great chances over the next eight minutes but Nivens and Filson both just missed on shots from inside the box.
Holy Innocents’ countered and kept pushing and eventually forced a pair of corners in the final 30 seconds of the half. The second paid off as Belisle headed in a bouncing pass with just 2 seconds left to give the Lady Bears a 2-1 halftime lead.
“They made a nice play to tie it and then that second goal right before half was just a dagger to us,” Wallace said. “That just took the steam out of the girls. Then (Holy Innocents’) took advantage of that over the first five minutes of the second half.”
The Lady Bears cashed in two big Lakeview mistakes to start the second half when Belisle scored a pair of goals a minute apart as the Lakeview defense was not able to clear the ball for a quick 4-1 lead just five minutes into the second half.
Lakeview generated three legitimate scoring chances over the final 10 minutes but could get just one shot on goal as the Lady Bears controlled the time of possession down the stretch.
Wallace, who had 12 freshmen on the roster and started six in the quarterfinals, said they should be able to take the experience and build on it.
“I think we’re going to grow from this,” he said. “We are a very young team but they really meshed well this year. I expect big things for the program down the road.”