Eagles S.C. under-15 girls soccer coach Andrew Kessinger felt like his team had the better of play in each of its three games at the 2008 Midwest Regional Cup last Saturday through last Wednesday at Sportscore Soccer Complex in Rockford, Ill.
But two major lapses caused the Eagles to finish in a tie with the Michigan Jaguars for third (0-2-1, 1 point) in its four-team pool behind Eclipse Select from Illinois (3-0, 9) and the Michigan Gators (2-1, 6).
"We could have won any of the three games, but we went on autopilot for parts of these games, and we learned that we can't do that in a competitive tournament like this," Kessinger said. "There's a narrow line between the good and great teams, and to be a great team, you can't afford to take any plays off."
The Eagles opened last Saturday with a scoreless tie against the Jaguars.
"Both teams fought hard," Kessinger said. "We had a couple of breakdowns, but our goalkeeper (Devon Tabata) came up big so that we could get a point out of this game. (Defender Michelle DeVilbiss) was clearly the standout player in this game. She was fantastic."
Last Sunday, the Eagles lost to the Gators 1-0.
"We felt like we should have got three points out of this game, so it was a disappointment," Kessinger said. "They lost their goalkeeper four days before the tournament and had to put a field player back there, but we didn't get enough pressure on her with our shots. We made a mistake and they caught us with a through ball to the centerback to score their goal in the second half."
The Eagles then lost to Eclipse Select 2-1 last Monday. Gena Inbusch scored off a pass from Maria Bruno to put the Eagles ahead 1-0 at halftime, but Eclipse Select scored two goals in the final 10 minutes.
"This is frustrating because we played better than them for 70 minutes, and then they created a couple of chances in the last 10 minutes and buried them," Kessinger said. "This was our first time at the Regional Cup, and it should be a good learning experience."
•The Eagles S.C. U-19 boys team went 2-1 and scored six points to finish second in its four-team pool behind Scott Gallagher from Missouri (2-0-1, 7) and ahead of Bangu United from Minnesota (1-1-1, 4) and South Dakota United (0-3, 0).
The Eagles opened last Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Bangu United. Eight minutes into the game, Brian Greene scored off a crossing pass from Eric Laipple to put the Eagles ahead 1-0.
Bangu United had the better of play for the rest of the half and produced three quality scoring chances, but goalkeeper Aaron Ritter made a diving save to deflect the ball wide of the left post and then jumped to make a save, tipping the ball over the crossbar. On Bangu United's third opportunity, defender Justin Kibler cleared a shot off the goal line before it went into the net.
In the second half, A.J. Mueller scored two unassisted goals to put the Eagles ahead 3-0 before Bangu United scored in the waning moments.
"They completely outplayed us, but we had some kids step up and make some great plays to win this game," coach Tom Sprout said.
Last Sunday, the Eagles beat South Dakota United 1-0. The Eagles dominated the majority of the game, but didn't score until the last two minutes when Patrick Williams scored off a pass from Dan Biga.
"South Dakota was significantly better than I thought they would be, and they gave us a good battle," Sprout said. "We pounded their goal constantly. We just couldn't get a bounce until the final minute."
The Eagles lost to Scott Gallagher 3-2 last Monday. Scott Gallagher scored on a penalty kick one minute into the game, but four minutes later Laipple looped a corner kick to Ryan Harmanis, who headed the ball into the upper-right portion of the goal.
Scott Gallagher pulled ahead 3-1 at halftime, but lost its goalkeeper to a red card in the waning moments of the first half and had to play the second half a player down.
Kyle Long scored off a crossing pass from Jordan Fox to cut the Eagles' deficit to 3-2 with 30 minutes remaining.
Scott Gallagher's backup goalkeeper made a save on a shot by Laipple with two minutes left, and Long blasted a shot wide left with less than a minute remaining.
"They came out flying and put the ball away immediately against us," Sprout said. "We had our chances, especially in the second half, but we just couldn't put one more in."