There are no moral victories. Not in the playoffs. A loss is a loss and the season is over no matter how you slice it.
If there was such a thing, though, the Spencer boys soccer team earned one on Thursday in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs.
After trailing by four goals midway through the second half, the Greenwave scored three times late before succumbing to visiting Coosa 6-4.
The loss ended Spencer’s season, but the comeback offered a glimpse at what the team has to look forward to next season.
“We have a no-quit mentality,” coach Marvin Broadwater said after the game. “We have a young team. This experience is really going to help us next year.”
Spencer will graduate just one senior from the team and will bring back sophomore Osvaldo Valencia, who scored all three of the team’s goals in the second half in the comeback effort.
Shortly after Coosa’s Brayan Cornejo scored his third goal of the game to make the deficit 5-1, Valencia put one into the back of the net to cut it to 5-2.
Not long after, Valencia put another goal in on a breakaway and followed that with his third in a row just minutes later. The third goal spurred an emotional outburst from Valencia and his teammates, who had pulled to within a single goal of Coosa with more than enough time left to finish the comeback.
“They scared the daylights out of us,” Coosa coach Randy Vice said. “(Valencia) is a player. He’s probably the best player we’ve faced all year.”
The Greenwave put more pressure on Coosa and even had a shot on goal fly just wide left. They couldn’t complete the job, though.
Despite Valencia’s heroics, Coosa’s Cornejo converted a penalty kick for his fourth goal of the game to make the score 6-4. Spencer did not score again.
“We just dug too deep a hole,” Broadwater said. “We scored first in the game and maybe got to complacent.”
He is referring to a goal by Yoshua Morris-Wharton, a freshman, just minutes into the game that gave Spencer a 1-0 lead.
Its excitement was quickly erased, though, when Coosa erupted for four goals in the half. Cornejo scored his first to tie the game, then Eric Chavez gave Coosa a 2-1 lead. Coosa continued the pressure and had a handful of opportunities before scoring its third goal of the half, this one by Jose Vasquez. Cornejo made it 4-1 shortly thereafter after one shot was blocked back to him, and he kicked it high into the net.
“They’re a mirror of us,” Broadwater said of Coosa. “They have a guy who can score at will like we do. We left some guys unmarked, and it cost us.”
Coosa will go on to the second round where it will face the winner of Jefferson-Lovett next week.
Thursday at Woodruff Farms Road Soccer Complex
Goals— Coosa, Brayan Cornejo 4, Jose Vasquez, Eric Chavez; Spencer, Osvaldo Valencia 3, Yoshua Morris-Wharton. Assists— Coosa, Jonathan Morales 2, Chavez; Spencer, Valencia, Jose Perez-Bueno, Morris-Wharton, Cristhian Amable. Records— Coosa, 12-6; Spencer, 9-3. Next: Coosa, Wednesday vs. Jefferson/Lovett; Spencer, season over.