HERSCHER — One, three, six.
Those are the key numbers in retrospect when looking at Friday’s Class 1A regional soccer championship.
One signifies the number of goals scored in the match — that by Herscher’s Taylre Devine off an assist by Bri Ferrias. It stands as the contest-winner and the lone goal as the Tigers eliminated Coal City in the postseason for the third straight year.
It is the sixth regional title in a row for the Alan High-led team.
“We know that everyone is always giving us their best shot,” High said. “Coal City gave us everything they had.”
Coal City won the coin toss to start the match and elected to play into a steady wind out of the south to start. Herscher then came out and dominated play, only to be denied over and over by Coaler keeper Sarah Sirovy.
“Their goalie was phenomenal today,” High said. “Sirovy was phenomenal with some of the saves she made.”
The action stayed in Herscher’s offensive end throughout much of the first 40 minutes with the locals getting two quality chances in the 14th and 15th minutes on shots by Alisha Johnson and Brynna Borgra. However, despite nine shots on goal and three others that were off, Herscher couldn’t find a way past Sirovy.
The save of the game in the first half came in the 35th minute when Ferrias had a header in front that Sirovy tipped over the net to preserve the scoreless tie.
“We played great in the first half,” High said. “We put some shots on them, but they came in with a good defensive game plan.”
That’s where the game stood until the 51st minute when Ferrias and Devine hooked up for the lone goal of the game.
The best scoring chance for Coal City came late in the match while chasing one. With just under 10 minutes left to play, Coal City got a corner kick opportunity to which Johnson put her right foot into. The ball then seemingly bounced three or four times in front of Tigers keeper Laryn Bruer before being cleared.
“It bounced and hit and went off everyone,” Coal City junior forward Donjeta Shabani said. “I know I got a foot on it.”
“I hit it, and Borgra did too,” Megan Jessen said. “It went all the way through and went off a bunch of people.”
“But we had someone in front of them every time,” High pointed out.
Coal City coach Mike Kostbade said that he simply did not know how the ball didn’t go in to tie the game.
“I saw unlucky bounces there,” he said. “Usually you’ll get one rebound shot that will go off a leg and in. But we couldn’t get it in. It was unfortunate because it was our best chance.”
Herscher is now 15-2-2 on the season while Coal City ends up at 7-8-2.
Despite the season-ending loss, Kostbade says he thinks his team will be better of for it next year.
“The team feels this is a game they could have won, but there is no reason to think that we can’t be on the other end of these close games next season,” Kostbade said. “The girls should now believe that they can beat anybody at any time.”
“Herscher played a good game,” Shabani said. “But we have a lot to be proud of with what we have accomplished this year.”