BY AARON PATTERSON email@example.com
---- — DANVILLE — In many respects, Danville Area Community College soccer coach Dave Barney couldn’t have asked for much more out of his team this season. They had heart, and on so many occasions, the Jaguars were well within reach of pulling out a close win.
Unfortunately, that never happened. They couldn’t get over the hump. And in what appears to be the final season of the program, Barney found only one word to describe DACC’s final campaign following its 2-1 home loss to the Parkland College Cobras.
“The best way I can describe this team is unlucky,” Barney said. “Sometimes our effort has been questionable. Tonight was an exception. We left it out on the field today.
“It’s not that we haven’t been in games, we just can’t get over the hump,” he added. “It’s not that we don’t have the opportunities to finish it, we just can’t finish the game with a win. But, you know, we played with our hearts on our sleeves today, and when you see kids upset about losing, you play as hard as you can, and if you lose to a team that was better today, that’s all you can ask for.”
The Jaguars’ opportunities came frequent in the second half of Wednesday’s loss, and they swiped enough momentum worthy of pulling out their first win of the season against a Parkland team that is among the best in the conference.
DACC trailed 1-0 at the break, but Max Geronzini tied the game 24 seconds into the second half on a breakaway. From there, it seemed as though there was little standing in the way of the Jaguars picking up their first win.
“We talked to everyone during halftime, and that’s what we decided to do,” DACC sophomore defender and captain Andres Molina said. “Every single game we’ve played, we seem to give up the first five to 10 minutes of the second half. This time we just decided we were going to leave everything out there the first five minutes, pressure as much as we could, and we got our first goal. We tied the game, and unfortunately, the ball just didn’t want to go in for us.”
It did, however, find the back of the net for the Cobras who found a goal from Australian Zachary Allevi in the 60th minute. That proved to be the game winner. Despite countless subsequent opportunities, DACC (0-11 overall) failed to convert.
“We just had to compress as a unit,” said Danville native Zach Downing, who held down Parkland’s defense along with Demarion Hatfield, who also starred for the Danville Vikings. “In the first 20 minutes of the game, the field was spread and we were compact. That allowed them to have time and space on the ball. Then, we started compressing more, and it made it more difficult for them to come at us.”
It was Downing’s first game competing in Danville since graduating from Danville High, and while he has been part of an historic season for the Parkland Cobras (10-1-3), he was glad to be a part of what was possibly DACC’s final game as a program.
“It feels good to be back at home,” Downing said. “I really enjoyed playing here for DACC’s last game. It will be memorable. I’ll have this memory in the future. It just felt good playing in front of people I know.”
Barney is not completely giving up hope that the decision will be made for the soccer program to return next season, but in the event that it has been eliminated, players scheduled to return next season are keeping their options open to play elsewhere.
Despite going winless on the season, Molina is confident that his teammates will be able to continue their soccer careers.
“As a sophomore, I admire many of these kids,” Molina said. “This team is really young. Almost 70 percent of the team are freshmen. They’ve done a splendid job this season. Me as a sophomore, I was just trying to be a leader, trying to express myself, trying to give the kids the confidence that they need to get better.
“They have a bright future ahead of them. Even though this program probably will not exist next year, a lot of these kids can move on to a different school. That’s what they’ve done. They’ve done an excellent job. I think any other college around here or any four-year university is going to be more than happy to have them.”
The Jaguars still have one more opportunity to finish the season with a mark in the win column as they are scheduled to take on Lincoln Land Community College in the Region 24 tournament on October 26 at noon.