MURRAY — Last night was the ultimate measuring stick for head coach Jared Rosa and his Murray High Tigers soccer team as they battled Region 2 powerhouse Hopkinsville to a 2-1 loss.
All three goals for the game came in the first half with the Hopkinsville Tigers striking first on a stellar shot by Tyler Greenwell that was impossible for goalkeeper Bradley Dawson to save.
“Defensively, we were staying inside the 18. We did everything right and he (Greenwell) was outside of the 18 and just knocked it,” Rosa said. “I trust Brad (Dawson) 100% of the time to make those saves but it just swerved away from him and it went in. There’s nothing you can do about that stuff.”
Not long after that, a penalty kick was awarded to Hopkinsville on a good, hard challenge inside the box. Once again, it was Greenwell applying the pressure and he finished on the penalty kick to put his team up 2-0 in the first half.
Murray didn’t quit, though. They scored a goal before half off a shot by Chase Renick and the deficit was cut in half. Rosa said that was what he was most impressed with from his team last night.
“They didn’t shut down, they fought back and then we gave ourselves a chance in the second half,” Rosa said. “Credit to them (Hopkinsville). They’re tough. They’ve got a little bit more quickness with and without the ball. They’re a little bit more experienced. That’s why I wanted to play them. I wanted to see what it was like and give them (Tigers players) an opportunity to learn from that.”
The rest of the game was extremely balanced, with each team getting opportunities and each goalkeeper making saves.
“It went back and forth and we had about three or four really good chances,” Rosa said. “But they probably had about three or four really good chances too.”
Rosa said he was also pleased with the way his back line played defensively against an opponent that had a little more speed than they did.
“As far as our shape and positioning, they were fantastic,” Rosa said. “Now, where we were getting beat is they would get the ball in the middle third and turn and they would hit it and they were gone. So, we were chasing a lot, but we prepared for that in the preseason. We ran a lot. Our endurance is getting better and a few more games into this season, maybe a week or two and we’ll be pretty game-ready, I think.”
Overall, the Murray High Tigers knew what they were in for when they stepped on the field last night to face a team as strong as Hopkinsville, and they rose to the challenge.
“They’ve got some strong pieces and we were talking before the game and he (Hopkinsville’s head coach) said they only lost two starters,” Rosa said. “That’s a testament to these guys (the Tigers). We lost three starters. One was a back and the other two were basically our entire offense, so we are going to have to figure out some ways to put the ball in the net. I think it will come, but I think it’s a good thing that we are all a team working together to try and get it done.”