Highlands varsity soccer team ends season after tough loss in state tournament

The Highlanders put up a good fight and took the game to overtime at home against Mountain Island Charter on Saturday, but couldn’t end up moving on to the next round of the 2018 Men’s Soccer Championship-1A Tournament losing 3-2 for the final soccer game of their 2018 season.

“They (Mountain Charter) controlled the midfield, we didn’t cover well, and they capitalized on it,” said Highlands Head Coach Brett Lamb. “But I’m proud of them. That’s the kind of game you want to be a part of. They’re great kids and they battled to the end.”

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Highlands Jake Billingsley heads the ball into against Mountain Island Charter on Nov. 3 at home. Highlands lost in the first round of the state tournament 3-2.

The game was action packed from beginning to end. In the first two minutes of the game, sophomore Collin Stoltzfus broke his collarbone. After the game he said it hurt but he would go to the hospital in about a week.

“They told me they kicked my foot and then I went face-first into the ground,” said Stoltzfus. “But after I was out, they played hard. It just didn’t work out today.”

He added that he will be out for the first 4-6 weeks of basketball season.

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Highlands celebrates after Destin Gearhart scores his second goal in the first round of the state tournament.

Highlands’ two goals came from senior Destin Gearhart. The first score was after Gearhart threw the ball in and Mountain Charter knocked it into their own goal at the beginning of the second half that tied the game. The second goal was later in the second half. Highlands held onto the lead until Mountain Charter tied the game up scoring with 21 seconds left in the game.

“What can you say, they seemed like they wanted it a little more,” said Gearhart. “But I wouldn’t want to go through this season with anybody else.”

Throughout the game players were plagued by their legs cramping up, a feeling Gearhart knows well.

“I would never wish that pain on anyone,” he said.

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Highlands Hunter Collins jumps to try and head the ball into Mountain Island Charter’s goal.

Senior Hunter Collins said it was the build-up of mistakes that caused Highlands’ downfall.

“It was our mistakes that got us, simple mistakes,” said Collins. “Every team makes them, but they (Mountain Charter) finished it.”

Collins added that he’s looking on the bright side and not letting the loss get him down.

“We got to state so I’m happy,” he said. “We played our butts off all season, and I’m proud of the team.”

Overtime rules include two 10-minute periods, then two sudden-death 5-minute periods. If there is no winner it goes to penalty kicks, but it only got to the second 10-minute period when Mountain Charter scored and Highlands could not answer before the clock ran out.

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Highlands Pablo Jimenez races a Mountain Island Charter player to the ball in Highlands on Saturday.

“We played well,” said Highlands goalie Ethan Tate. “But we all made some individual mistakes, which lead to our downfall.”

Lamb said with the conclusion of the soccer season, it’s time to look ahead towards basketball season. Highlands has 25 players playing basketball, minus a few injuries. Lamb will assign them to varsity or junior varsity in the coming days.

“It’s going to be exciting,” said Lamb. “We have 25 kids, some of them are injured but there are some upper-classman and some young players who are eager to get onto the court. It’s going to be good.”

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Lane Tingen attacks the ball preventing Mountain Island Charter from clearing it out of their backfield.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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