Pacelli boys soccer coach Mike Dempsey took off his cap, ran his fingers through his hair, then looked at the scoreboard.
His facial expression told the story.
Dempsey's Vikings fell behind quickly, then fell hard in a 6-2 loss to Hebron Christian in the first round of the Georgia High School Association state playoffs Tuesday at Columbus State's Walden Soccer Complex.
It was a day where nothing seemed to go right for Pacelli. The Vikings, who were expected to play host to their first home game on campus, never got that opportunity. A morning shower left standing water on Deimel Field, forcing the school to move the game to CSU.
Then Pacelli fell behind 2-0 during the first 10 minutes, halting any excitement.
"This was probably the worst we've played as a team," said junior midfielder Jay Dawahare. "It was a horrible way to end the season. Defense has been a strong point for us all year, but we got pushed off way too early."
Hebron Christian (13-6), which shut out Atkinson County last week in a play-in game, took command early. The Lions capitalized on Pacelli miscues and used a stifling defense to keep the Vikings (7-8-1) off balance.
But after falling behind by two goals, Pacelli appeared ready to make a game of it. Dawahare cut Hebron's lead in half, scoring off a perfectly executed assist
from Alec Silva at the 30:26 mark.
However, Hebron roared right back, using a quick goal from Chris Austin with 29:35 left, then Ryan Notheis gave the Lions a 4-1 advantage at the 25:01 mark. Austin finished with four goals.
"They scored on a mistake and two set pieces," Dempsey said. "We made three mistakes, and they scored on every one of them. They were bigger and physical than we were. They were the better team. I'm not making excuses. but we've got to get more size."
Pacelli had its chances to crawl back before halftime. Silva overshot the goal on a penalty kick at the 6:19 mark, then Trevor Dempsey's header off Christian Trueax's cornerkick slipped just a few feet outside the goal.
"After we scored, they scored one more, then another, and the next thing you know, it's 4-1," Dawahare said. "That's a hard hill to climb."
The Vikings trimmed the deficit to 4-2 with 13:26 left on Matt Meyer's goal, but Hebron answered nearly 3 minutes later to build an insurmountable lead.
"We had our moments where we played well," Dawahare said. "With the exception of one player, everybody will be back next season."
Tuesday at Columbus State
Goals: Hebron - Chris Austin 4, Ryan Notheis 2. Pacelli - Jay Dawahare, Matt Meyer. Assists: Hebron - Cole Redman 2, Ryan Thomas 2. Johnny Hardin. Pacelli - Alec Silva, Christian Trueax. Goalkeepers: Hebron - Tyler Smith (3 saves), Noah Blalock (1 save). Pacelli - Nathan Schlies (9 saves). Records: Hebron 13-6, Pacelli 7-8-1.