Cards score, but can’t hang with Bulldogs
Fans and reserve players huddled in whatever clothing they could find -- often the options were scarce as cars and trucks remained outfitted for summer and bar-be-ques, not the wind and the wet of a cool fall afternoon.
Eudora soccer coach Gunar Harmon waved his arms wildly, however, doing nothing to shield himself from the pelting rain. He rocked back, arms outstretched in disbelief, then curled up to his forehead in frustration.
Try as they might -- and they tried repeatedly in the second half -- the Cardinals weren't going to win this one. Eudora fell in the rain and the muck 6-3 to Baldwin.
"The weather was like Christmas, but we didn't give any gifts," Harmon said. "We gave them a couple."
Baldwin doubled the Cardinals up with a goal the game's waning moments. Eudora goalkeeper Ben Miller dove and nearly corralled the ball on his left side. It slipped away, however. One Bulldog rolled it in front of the undefended net while another knocked it home.
Until that dagger, even down two scores, the Cardinals played like they had a chance.
The loss left the Cardinals 0-4 on the season, but they scored early and played close in the first half Tuesday, convincing the team that this was their chance.
"It feels good to see us getting the goals," Eudora senior Anthony Barta said. "We know the progress is there. The attack is doing really well. We felt really close in the game. We just need to take care of a few mistakes."
Baldwin put in the first goal, but Eudora didn't hesitate to answer, scoring its second goal of the season in the 19th minute.
Barta worked his way into the middle of the box, 20 yards from the goal, before unleashing a shot. It ricocheted its way through a mass of players gathered between him and his target -- a deviation not destroying the shot, but altering it enough that it rolled easily into the net as Baldwin's goalkeeper watched helplessly, lined up with the shot's original trajectory.
Baldwin scored again, an impossible angled shot catching the top of the bar, then deflecting down and several inches back, over the line and good for a lead.
Eudora's Isaac Welsh had shot pushed just wide by Baldwin's diving goalie before the Bulldogs scored again, first in the 32nd minute and then in the 35th.
Eudora managed to answer with one more goal, squeezing out a 4-2 halftime score.
Though the weather worsened in the second half, Eudora was playing with the wind and pushed the action.
The shots all began to look like Welsh's, however -- arm-waving inducingly close, but never in.
Welsh missed just high with a long, looping shot early in the period. Barta was just wide of an open corner of the net a little later, and Welsh again came up empty, nudging a header a hair wide on another corner kick opportunity.
"In the second half, it was a lot harder to get a good grip on the ball," Barta said. "It was just so slippery. In the second half, besides the wetness, it was more in our favor because of the wind, but in the first half, it really worked against us."
Baldwin, meanwhile, kept up the pressure. Dustin Schiller, the 2006 area player of the year, stayed aggressive, scoring a goal on an easily clearable ball midway through the half and coming close himself several other times.
Barta offered one final glimmer, making the 5-3 late in the period. He broke through Baldwin's final ring of defense and kept a pair of Bulldogs on his hips as he slowly approached the goal, then deliberately took aim, sliding the ball just inside the post.
It was all the balls that went just wide that the Cardinals shouldn't shake from their minds afterward, however.
"If we don't give them four goals, or we score two more, we're in this game," Harmon said. "It was a swing this way or a swing that way.
"We're in a dangerous situation. At least scoring in this game will make us feel better, but after four losses, you really have to put the clamps down."
Eudora will try for its first win Thursday against Paola, a team coached by Eudora's coach from a year ago, Matt Higgins.