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A second half Kenton rally fell short as the Wildcats fell to visiting Van Wert 6-3 in a Western Buckeye League soccer matchup on Thursday night.
After falling behind 3-0, the Wildcats were able to get within two goals twice but could not get any closer as they dropped to 1-4-1 overall and 0-2 in WBL play.
Kenton coach Jamie Bartlett was not overly impressed with the effort of his team. Although in control of play for a majority of the game, he said the Wildcats made a number of crucial mistakes and struggled to finish with goals when they had the chance.
“I don’t know how we can control the game as much as we did, yet lose the game by three goals,” the KHS coach said. “We spent a good portion of that game in their end of the field and in the goal box and we came away probably with not more than six quality shots and three goals.
“We made a lot of mistakes and they capitalized on five of those mistakes. It’s a tough loss in a game that we know that we could have won. We just didn’t show up. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.”
Van Wert tallied three goals on one shot in the first 25 minutes of the game, including one on a penalty shot when Wildcat keeper Mike Hites was issued a yellow card for tackling a Van Wert player in the goal box and another on a misplayed pass into the keeper’s box.
Dale Oates scored a goal late in the first half to pull the Wildcats within 3-1.
After Van Wert tallied one more first half goal and added another early in the second half, Cameron Deardorff netted a goal with about 26 minutes left in the game to pull Kenton within 5-2.
After a half hour delay when lightning was spotted in the distance, the Wildcats continued to press and Brent Walter beat the Cougar keeper to make it a 5-3 contest with 17:15 left to play. Cain Buroker had the assist.
Van Wert ended any Wildcat hopes of a comeback with a goal with just under five minutes to play.
Kenton held an 8-5 shots on goal advantage.
Wildcat keeper Hites had one save playing in place of the injured Collin Roll.
“We play well, but we’re not a finishing team,” Bartlett said. “And unfortunately tonight when you give up six goals, you’ve got to counter with seven. As a team that’s averaging two goals per game, we’re not used to scoring three or four or five goals. So it was an uphill climb for us. We’ll go back to the drawing board tomorrow and we’ll give what we’ve got at New Knoxville Saturday.”
In addition to Roll, the Wildcats were also without Brian Hogue, who is own of their top defenders.
“We’re a little banged up, but as a coach I think that you expect more from your squad,” he said. “ It’s disappointing. … Guys are getting some opportunities to step up and helpfully they will. We’re facing a tall task here and we understand that, but at the same time we had higher expectations than this.”
Kenton travels to New Knoxville for a 10 a.m. game Saturday.
By KENDRICK JESIONOWSKI
Times sports editor