The Classical Academy boys’ soccer team that lost to Air Academy, the eventual champions, in last year’s 4A semifinals looked different than the team that dropped Tuesday’s match 4-2 to the Kadets, and that left Titans coach Blake Galvin content with his team’s showing.
The Titans lost a quartet of seniors from the 2017 squad that combined for 62 goals.
The fact that the Kadets’ first two goals Wednesday seemed to be self-inflicted errors solidified the coach's stance.
“It kinda seemed like they had two really good goals, and then two really good goals that we gave them,” Galvin said.
“In some ways we gotta look at that as in a lot of ways it was a really even game.”
The Titans got out on the front foot when junior Declan Barry received a pass near the top of the box, took a touch toward goal and calmly finished into the bottom right side of goal.
“I kinda opened up behind him,” Barry said recalling the play. “He kinda pulled it back to me, I took a touch and played it into the corner.”
What followed appeared to be a pair of miscommunications along the back line as Mason Shandy saw a free kick from near midfield bounce inside the box and into goal before Andrew Passon took advantage of sloppy play and passed the ball into an open goal to give the Kadets a lead they would not relinquish.
Dylan Cornejo gave the Kadets a 3-1 advantage at the half when he got the ball onto his right foot and banked a shot off the far post with just a couple minutes left in the opening 40 minutes.
“That’s what a championship-caliber team does,” Galvin said of the Kadets’ first-half surge.
“I’m still really proud of our boys. I think we responded well.”
Freshman Brock Carpenter was the first to a rebound and slotted home an easy finish to bring the Titans within a goal midway through the second half. Moments later, Aaron Peck nearly flicked an equalizing header into the goal only to see it end up just wide.
“Absolutely fantastic,” Galvin characterized the start of the second half.
“Guys didn’t give up, didn’t hang their heads. They went out and they played.”
The Titans’ hope of forcing extra time seemingly ended when Kadet junior Kelton Hooker took a past from Thaddeus Dewing and finished inside the far post in the final 15 minutes, giving Dewing his second assist of the game.
“It definitely could’ve been a different result, but that’s how the plays played out,” Barry said. “It’s unfortunate that we lost, but they’re a good team. We’re a good team. Hopefully we’ll get them in the playoffs and hopefully get them back.”