Resurgent season comes to an end for Lady Knights

Eisenhower’s Patricia Bortz uses her body to sheild a Seneca player away from the ball during their District 10 semifinal playoff match at the Prep-Villa Event Center, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017.

The weather at the Prep-Villa Events Center was cold and dreary Monday night, and after bowing out of the District 10 playoffs with a 6-1 loss to Seneca, it would be easy to expect a similar mood from the Eisenhower girls soccer team.

While disappointed with the loss, the Knights and coach Diane Elmquist were also excited about the future of the program.

“It’s not the outcome we wanted,” Elmquist said. “But I’m super excited about where we can go.”

The Knights quickly turned a 5-11-1 team into a 15-5 contender, and will only lose four players, albeit key players-to graduation.

“It’ll be tough to lose the seniors we have, they’re some really tough seniors,” Elmquist said. “But I think we play really well as a team and the team we are left with is going to be really strong.”

Eisenhower’s Lexi Head chases down the ball during a match against Seneca at the Prep-Villa Event Center, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. The Bobcats eliminated the Knights from the District 10 playoffs with a 6-1 win.

The biggest challenge Eisenhower faces is figuring out how to consistently defeat region powerhouses Iroquois and Seneca as four of the Knights’ five losses were to those two teams.

Seneca’s experience showed Monday as the Bobcats took advantage of the strong wind at their back to score two goals in the first 10 minutes of the match.

Madison Fletcher took a centering pass at 5:14 and fired the ball to the far post just past a diving Faith Johnson to put Seneca ahead 1-0.

Eisenhower responded with some pressure, but Seneca got possession and Madison Hoover took advantage of a breakaway down the right sideline. Hoover again put the ball to the far post, making it 2-0 less than eight minutes into the game.

“They possessed the ball, they were quick to the ball and they got out of the gate quickly,” Elmquist said. “They played like I expected them to.”

Eisenhower keeper Faith Johnson goes for a save during a District 10 semifinal playoff match against Seneca at the Prep-Villa Event Center, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017.

Eisenhower was able to steady things a bit from that point, and, while Seneca still had a possession advantage, the Knights were able to limit the quality chances.

Addy D’Antonio put the Bobcats ahead 3-0 after crashing the net and using her body to twist the ball just past Johnson at 21:49.

“They play excellent triangle passes,” Elmquist said. “There’s just always somebody there and we didn’t defend that well.”

Five minutes later, Seneca got a little help from the 20-plus mph winds that held steady for most of the match. Fletcher appeared to send a crossing pass from left to right in front of the net. Just as the ball was approaching the front of the right post, the wind gusted and pushed the ball across the goalline.

“They did get an advantage with the wind out of the gate, but that’s not the reason (for the result),” Elmquist said.

Leah Peterson got the Knights on the board at 32:03 after getting the ball at center. Peterson fired a strong kick that beat Seneca keeper Nicole Schwab on the short side.

Fletcher completed the hat trick with a goal at 50:33. She shot from center and it looked like Johnson had a beat on the ball when it suddenly changed directions and found the back of the net.

Vanessa Troutman closed out the scoring with a sharp angle shot at 67:10.

Despite the setback, Elmquist is excited about the direction her team is headed.

“I’m pretty excited about what we can do with the program if everybody sticks with it and plays hard,” she said. “We’ll have another repeat season I think.”