Gryphons fall to Hendersonville in third round
A missed penalty kick and a shorthanded goal by Hendersonville early in the second half doomed Thomas Jefferson to a 1-0 loss to the Hendersonville Bearcats in the third round of the 1A state playoffs Wednesday.
“I could see it coming,” said TJCA head coach Brian Espinoza. “In soccer when a team is playing a man down they play with more energy and we just couldn’t match it. It’s a very tough way to end the season but sometimes that’s how the game goes.”
TJCA controlled the action in the early going earning a direct kick in the sixth minute after a foul. Anna Dedmon’s shot sailed over the crossbar.
Hendersonville then began to assert their physical style and dominated the next 10 minutes of play. That strategy came with a price, however, as cards started to mount on the Bearcats.
Julia Michaels drew a yellow card in the 26thminute for a trip in the box. Leah Lineberry missed the ensuing penalty kick to leave the match scoreless.
Elizabeth Penland was sent off moments later to give the Gryphons a player advantage for the rest of the match.
Playing a man down seemed to galvanize Hendersonville as they put three shots on goal before the end of the half.
Caroline Longerbeam was up to the challenge making a pair of leaping saves to keep the match even at the half.
Hendersonville was also the more aggressive team coming out of the locker room.
The Bearcats kept possession for the first five minutes of the period. Shannon Reeves then took what looked to be a harmless shot, but Longerbeam fumbled the save and the ball fell right to Reeves who hooked a shot inside the far post for a 1-0 Bearcat lead in the 45th minute.
“You can’t make mistakes like that in the back third,” said Espinoza. “Hendersonville is too good a team and they took advantage. Caroline makes that save all the time, but she just dropped the ball. Sometimes that happens.”
The goal seemed to deflate the Gryphons as Hendersonville dominated the rest of the half.
Their best chance to draw even came in the 70th minute as Dedmon cut around two defenders and raced down the near sideline. Her left footed shot went straight to the goalie, however and the Lady Gryphons never threatened again.
The loss ends TJCA’s season at 13-6-1.