Barta big, but Trailblazers prevail 2-0
After rain postponed the long-awaited rematch with Bishop-Seabury Academy, the Eudora Cardinals got their season underway with a Tuesday match-up against league foe Gardner Edgerton.
The good news for the Cardinals came in the form of sophomore goalkeeper Anthony Barta, who had a monster game with 20 saves.
"I've had both the referees say he was one of the best keepers they had seen," head coach Erik Peltzman said of his keeper.
Unfortunately the bad news for the Cardinals was that Barta had a monster game with 20 saves.
The Trailblazers put pressure on the Cardinal keeper and the backfield from the first whistle on their way to a 2-0 victory at Eudora High School.
Eudora started the game on the defensive as the streaky Trailblazer forwards raced ahead of the Cardinal defenders for what was the first of many scoring opportunities.
Five minutes into the contest, Gardner seemed to make the relentless pressure pay off as forward Abraham Yigezu put the ball past a diving Barta for the first goal.
But the Cardinals caught a break as Yigezu was called for offside and the game remained scoreless.
However, less than 10 minutes later midfielder Spencer McLain arched a pass from the left corner over the head of Barta and found the foot of forward Chris Stone for the goal and a 1-0 Trailblazer lead.
"That first goal was textbook," Peltzman said.
"There wasn't much he (Barta) could do about that."
After the first goal the Cardinals managed to regroup and keep the Blazers off the scoreboard, although the pressure was still on Barta to keep his team in the game.
The Cardinals had their share of opportunities on the offensive side as the first half went on. Sophomore Connor Hartpence and junior Erryn Kindle managed to make Blazer keeper Jacob Paulsen work with early penetration and shots on goal. Unfortunately the Cardinals could not make the most of their scarce chances in the box.
"We couldn't finish," Peltzman said. "We moved well, we passed well and we looked strong. We just couldn't finish."
After coming out of halftime down only 1-0, the Cardinals were still very much a part of the game. But the Trailblazers came out with the same approach that earned them a goal in the first half. That effort earned Gardner-Edgerton a second and crushing goal early in the second half when McLain lined a shot into the topside of the net for the 2-0 lead.
The Cardinals once again regrouped in the half but were still unable to really threaten the Trailblazers as the game wound down. Although senior Jacob Gillihan continued to penetrate, most of the Cardinals' opportunities resulted in weak or deflected shots at the goal.
Perhaps the best chance for the Cardinals to find the net came on a free kick just outside the penalty box by forward Kindle. The shot was true, but so were the hands of keeper Paulsen as the ball sailed over the net along with the hopes for a Cardinal comeback.
Despite the loss there were many things the head coach could take away from his team's first game.
"They did a much better job of passing and communicating and getting to the ball," Peltzman said.
But there were a few things that didn't sit well with the coach after the final whistle. During the contest the Cardinals seemed to be a step behind on many plays. Peltzman knew immediately what the culprit was.
"We're still not as conditioned as we should be," Peltzman said. "Even though we took a week off to do so. So we still have to run."
The Cardinals fall to 0-1 on the season and will host De Soto at 4 p.m. Thursday