MOUNT CARMEL -- Mount Carmel head girls soccer coach Ed Berberich knew starting a girls soccer program at the school would be challenging. The girls would face girls who have a more indepth knowledge of the game, coupled with far more game experience than what they'd have.
With that in mind, games such as Mount Carmel's 7-0 loss to Harrisburg on Tuesday night at Wabash Valley College are to be expected. The Lady Bulldogs put on an impressive display of chemistry, off ball positioning and skill to best the Lady Aces, who are still setting the foundation for the program for years to come.
Harrisburg scored five goals in the first half, the first coming at the four minute mark, the last of the half coming at the 28 minute mark.
Unfortunately for Mount Carmel sophomore goalie Allison Thread, she'd be kept very busy, with Harrisburg in constant attack mode, maneuvering past Mount Carmel's defense and into the box with ease. They were mostly mental errors by Mount Carmel, which Berberich hopes they'll be able to correct. Fatigue may have played a factor, as the Lady Aces are just now recouping from a brutal stretch of games.
"They were good," Berberich said. "Not to take anything away from them, but several of those goals, like particularly that throw in over here, we watched a player go seven yards and you can't be offsides on a throw in. Our girls know this, we've taken advantage of it a few times ourselves, we let a player stand seven yards behind us and no one made a move to go to her. Gone. There were a few mental breakdowns in the back that happened but they were good, they were even a little better than I thought they'd be."
Likely Mount Carmel's best look of the game came on an attack by sophomore Rylie Webb in the 26th minute, who split a couple defenders en route to a one-on-one with the Harrisburg goalie. The shot was saved, but it was a quality look by Webb. She had a couple more shots and sophomore Maya Smith had a shot, but Webb's good look was Mount Carmel's lone shot on frame. The Lady Aces additionally had three additional scoring chances and three interceptions.
With a sizable disadvantage at the half, Mount Carmel platooned many of their starters for reserves, replacing Thread at goalie with sophomore Taylor Roosevelt. The pair combined for 11 saves on 15 Harrisburg shots, 10 of which were on the frame.
Berberich is still looking for his team to create more scoring opportunities. That'll come with their growing understanding of positioning and improving chemistry. The Lady Aces were called for a few offsides on through passes, negating potential scoring chances.
"You can see us starting to look for [through passes]," Berberich said. "We're still slow to see them, so we'll have an opportunity, take two more touches and then the opportunity's done or the player made their run and they're offsides. We're just a little bit off on those. We're still kind of -- I was trying to point out to them -- when they played their through balls, they were on the ground, controlled passes behind the defense that they could run onto. We're still kicking it up ahead. It's not quite kick ball, there's a plan there, but there's still just kicking it and hoping we get it then doing more controlled passes on the ground."
With the loss, Mount Carmel (0-8-2) remains winless on the year, though they'll try to remedy that with a Senior Night date with Pinckneyville on Friday (May 3). The game's set to begin at 5 p.m., but the festivities will likely begin around 4:30 p.m. It'll send off nine seniors, some of whom helped with the founding of the program. Berberich's daughter, Sophie, is among the seniors who'll be recognized. It'll be an emotional night and hopefully the girls will come out with enough energy to emerge with their first win on Senior Night.
"We're still at the point where we have to watch how hard we work them in practice," Berberich said. "We still need to work on everything really, but we'll have a practice Thursday, we'll have to go light with the game being Friday. We'll try to work on a few things Thursday and then come out Friday. At the very least the one thing they can control is how hard they play and how aggressive they are."
"Should be fun, it'll be kind of a sad day," Berberich spoke of Senior Night. "It'll be probably an emotional night, there were a couple of those seniors that were key in getting the team started. It'll be sad to see them go. They've been good leaders for us, so they've helped us have that foundation going forward of having that good attitude and stuff like that."