Times tough as Cards early lead evaporates
The Eudora soccer team played one of the most competitive soccer games in its existence Monday night.
But that just made the loss to Baldwin that much more crushing, coach Erik Peltzman said.
Despite leading 2-0 in the first half and rallying to tie the game at three after falling behind in the second, Eudora couldn't hang with the Bulldogs, finally falling 6-3.
A stiff north breeze dictated momentum throughout the game, and the Cardinals rode it to an impressive first half advantage. Connor Hartpence scored Eudora's first goal early in the first half, landing the ball in the net coming in from the corner.
Later, Hartpence made it 2-0. He got the ball in traffic 20 yards in front of the goalkeeper and blasted it high and hard, just out of reach for his second score.
"I was really feeling like we were going to win," Hartpence said.
But Eudora couldn't rely on the wind to carry them safely into halftime. Baldwin's Aaron Karlin scored the first of his two goals only moments after Hartpence scored.
Baldwin quickly tied the game and finally took the lead with a hard shot past the keeper.
Once up by two and dreaming of a happy halftime, the Cardinals were instantaneously mired in a 3-2 hole.
"We're not a team that's won a lot of games," Peltzman said. "We don't know what it feels like, so when we get up, set get so emotional. We made good plays. We did start things, but we just didn't stay consistent."
Not only was Eudora now looking up at Baldwin, they were playing into the wind.
Still the Cardinals managed to tie. Jacob Gillihan approached from the goalie's left side and deposited the ball in the corner of the net, reviving Eudora's spirit.
"That was pretty impressive," Peltzman said. "Three quick goals like that can break a team pretty easily. We're fragile, so for Jacob to come back, straighten us up and fight, it was impressive."
Baldwin repeatedly missed on scoring attempts, and the score remained tied for much of the second half.
But just as it did in the first, things fell apart quickly.
Karlin scored his second goal, and Baldwin scored again making it 5-3. Before Eudora knew what had happened, a penalty kick put the Bulldogs up yet another score, setting the final at 6-3.
In 80 minutes of soccer, Eudora led or was tied for nearly 60. But the remaining ticks of the clock proved fatal.
"We kind of let off a little bit," Hartpence said. "It's really frustrating. It seems to happen to us a lot, where we play really hard and let off toward the end of the game, and that's when they score most of their goals."
Earlier in the week, Eudora fell 6-0 against KC Turner, a team Peltzman said was very much improved from the squad the Cards played close last season.
Now things only grow tougher. Eudora faces Paola Thursday at home. The Panthers upset De Soto 2-1 in double overtime Thursday, and promise to provide a challenge for Peltzman's squad.
Four straight road games, starting with Monday's visit to Ottawa and a Tuesday game at Tonganoxie could equate to a long couple of weeks for the Cardinals.
But, heartbreak and all, Eudora took plenty for the Baldwin loss.
After consistently struggling to score, the Cardinals scored three times. Despite showing a lack of consistency and heart at the end of the periods, Eudora did find the heart to tie after falling behind in the first.
Hartpence, Peltzman and the Cardinals hope those are the aspects that carry on from Tuesday's game, not the final score.
"If we can just play a whole game really hard, I think we can win," Hartpence said.