Maryville left the pitch disappointed twice early in the season before rattling off 13 wins in its final 15 regular-season matches to put those problems behind it.
Until Thursday night.
Maryville put forth its worst offensive performance of the season en route to a 1-0 loss to Hardin Valley in the District 4-AAA Tournament championship game at the Kerr Family Soccer Complex. It is the Lady Rebels’ first loss since Aug. 29 — a 2-0 defeat to defending Class AAA state champion Houston — and its first loss at home since Sept. 15, 2015.
“I just don’t think we managed the game well, and it wasn’t just one girl individually, there were mistakes all over the field,” Maryville coach Steve Feather told The Daily Times. “There were things that we discussed in detail at halftime, but we still made the same mistakes in the second half — easy adjustments that we could make.
“We’re disappointed in the fact that we lost our heads at times, we’re disappointed in the fact that we couldn’t get organized offensively at times and we’re disappointed that we couldn’t find a way to generate opportunities in the final 10 minutes.”
Maryville will travel to Oak Ridge for the Region 2-AAA semifinals Tuesday night needing a victory to keep its hopes of a second-straight state tournament appearance alive.
The Lady Rebels entered the district championship game having scored 86 goals in its previous 19 matches, but they couldn’t muster a sliver of that production. They failed to put a shot on goal, allowing a Kyra Ranvek goal in the 10th minute to be all Hardin Valley needed to win its first district title since 2015.
A first-half shot from senior Reyna Coston that sailed wide of the goal was the lone opportunity Maryville created that felt threatening. It was one of six shots Maryville logged in the first half.
“We thought there was an overload in the first half and there just wasn’t,” Feather said. “That’s how we prepared for this game, but it wasn’t as sophisticated as that. Our back line needed to locate their marks and not pull our No. 11 out of position and ruin our offensive shape.”
Adjustments were discussed during halftime, but none of them stuck.
The Lady Rebels fired two shots in the second half and failed to mount a meaningful attack as the final minutes ticked away.
“That’s why we don’t walk away from this and say, ‘Congrats on being district runner-up,’ because we have to regroup and figure out what’s wrong,” Feather said. “Some of it is connecting on that final ball and the other thing is we have to do a better job at getting behind the back line.
“We knew they were going to sink a few defenders untraditionally deep, however, we still needed to be able to find that space when their inside backs were committed to being ball-winners.”
Nine of Hardin Valley’s 13 shots were on goal, but senior goalkeeper Grayson Patterson made eight saves to keep the Lady Rebels within reach.
Maryville never created a worthwhile opportunity for an equalizer, and now it has four days to find the answers before facing an Oak Ridge team that plays like Hardin Valley with its season on the line.
“They have two ball-winning outside backs and they’re a team that is gritty in the middle of the field,” Feather said. “It would be nice to play at home, but I don’t think it’s a challenge we can’t get up for.
“That’s why we’re hard on our girls after a game like this because we know they are capable of better, and we know we’ll see better Tuesday night.”