Special to LTN
DENVER â€” If East Lincoln coach Jason Dragoon was disappointed after his girlsâ€™ team fell to Shelby 3-0 on the final night of the 2012 Andy Kosmala Memorial Tournament, he wasnâ€™t showing it.
The Lions (4-1-0) scored all three of the their goals in the first halfâ€”the final two in a flurryâ€”but Dragoon found plenty to take away from the match and his teamâ€™s performance in the three-day event.
â€œThatâ€™s why these nonconference games are so important and that you play teams that are going to beat you,â€ said Dragoon, whose Lady Mustangs lost two and tied one in the tournament and are now 1-2-1 overall. â€œItâ€™s not any good to play teams that canâ€™t beat you. You want to play teams that are going to expose everything wrong with what youâ€™re doing and thatâ€™s how you get better. If you play teams youâ€™re going to beat, youâ€™re not going to find out what youâ€™re not doing well. And then you really donâ€™t know that what youâ€™re doing right is going to work.â€
South Iredell earned top honors in the tournament with its 5-2 win Thursday against South Point. South Iredell also beat East Lincoln 9-0 on Monday and lost to West Forsyth, 6-2 on Tuesday.
But Thursday nightâ€™s contest was tighter than the score indicated. Shelby senior midfielder Megan Nanney hammered a pass into the back of the net at the 29:19 mark of the first half to give the Lions a 1-0 edge.
The two teams played even for the next 20-plus minutes until Shelbyâ€™s Chase Thompson was tripped in the box, giving the Lions a penalty kick. Nanney knocked home her second goal on the kick with 6 minutes to play in the half. Then, just a minute later, Rebecca Burton added Shelbyâ€™s third goal.
â€œI thought we played very well,â€ Dragoon said of his teamâ€™s performance. â€œThe first 20 minutes was all us. Weâ€™re knocking the ball around themâ€”thatâ€™s a state finals team, state semifinalist. Theyâ€™re consistently in the fourth and fifth and sixth rounds of the playoffs every year. Theyâ€™re consistently a 16-, 17-, 18-win team. They do a very, very good job. Iâ€™m extremely proud.â€
The loss was an all-too-familiar one for Dragoon when looking across the field at Shelby coach David Steeves. Dragoon said, including his boys team, heâ€™s now 0-15-1 against Steeves.
â€œThis is a game we schedule every year because he knows heâ€™s going to get good competition and I know Iâ€™m going to find out where weâ€™re weak, where weâ€™re having mistakes,â€ Dragoon said.
One of those mistakes was the penalty that led to Nanneyâ€™s penalty kick goal.
â€œIf we donâ€™t give up that PK, youâ€™re talking about 1-0 at halftime, probably,â€ he added. â€œBut we give that one up, thatâ€™s a goal, we fall apart and give up the third because Iâ€™m coaching the center back who made the mistake on the PK.â€
East Lincoln had several near misses in the second half.
First, with 18:21 remaining, Adriene Reavis was a step away from beating the goalkeeper to the ball on a breakaway. She got her foot on the ball, but was too far from the goal and the ball rolled away harmlessly.
Just a minute later, sophomore Tatum Auvilâ€™s header was somehow kept out of the goal.
â€œI donâ€™t know how we donâ€™t score on the diving header,â€ Dragoon said. â€œBeautiful cross, the girl leaves her feet. In girls high school soccer, you see a girl go parallel to the ground for a header and not come up with a goal, thatâ€™s just mind boggling. That should have been a 3-1 game.â€
Tatum, Auvil and Dalton Bell were named to the All-tournament team for the Lady Mustangs. South Iredellâ€™s Ashlyn Pierce was named the offensive MVP and South Pointâ€™s Kellie Patz was the defensive MVP.