From the moment Mount Vernons Simon Kargbo celebrated a blooper of a shot into T.C. Williams net early in their final regular season game, the Titans were looking for a comeback.
It just wasnt in the cards, but not for lack of effort.
Down 1-0 less than four minutes into play against the Majors, the 5-8-2 Titans roared back downfield. Though they streaked down the sidelines seemingly unopposed, T.C. struggled to get the ball out in front of the net.
Mount Vernon defenders nimbly cut between the Titans, fighting for the ball and more often than not sending it harmlessly back toward midfield. Midway through the first half, T.C.s missed opportunities had begun adding up.
Still, the Titans hung in, grittily fending off the Majors offense until Kargbo again broke free and put Mount Vernon up 2-0 with roughly 14 minutes left in the half. T.C. was at a disadvantage, but it shouldnt have knocked them off their game the way it did, said senior Tripp Spurio.
Weve [been] down in games a few times before, we just need to come out to play, he said. We werent emotional enough. We let everything hang loose.
Spurio and teammate Alex Mansaray led the attack against Mount Vernon, perpetually knocking at the door. When the pair did get a good look at the net, goalkeeper Lucas Belanger scooped the ball up or knocked it effortlessly away. The Mount Vernon sophomore would walk off the field with 11 saves.
With about 37 minutes left in the second half, Mansaray and Spurio had what looked like a sure thing. They broke through the iron curtain defense, tripped up Belanger and sent the ball into what should have been an open net on a diving head butt.
At least until a stealthy Major cut in with lightning speed to deflect the shot.
The entire affair was discouraging, Spurio said.
If you get scored on early, you should be able to come back, but it demoralized us, he said.
The Titans had another chance 17 minutes later. Junior forward Abdel al Nimiry leapt out of the midfield scrum and broke away from the Majors for a one-on-one matchup with Belanger.
Despite displaying excellent skill throughout, Belanger couldnt keep up with Nimirys footwork. The ball went gliding past him into the net. Suddenly the Titans were within reach.
With a few minutes left in the game it became clear the Titans reached their high water mark with Nimirys goal. They would come close several more times, but without success.
For Mansaray it was just frustrating. Returning to the pitch after missing seven games with a shoulder injury, he was hungry for a goal, but the Mount Vernon defenders did not make it easy.
I [had] a couple of chances and the goalkeeper was lucky, he said. I guess I was out of shape.
After facing down an 11-1 Mount Vernon squad on the road, T.C. coach Martin Nickley believes his squad will head into the Patriot District tournament with some much-needed experience.
[Mount Vernon] came out real strong and it was a bit disappointing, but we realized we have caliber players, he said. Mount Vernon is an excellent group. They have a great program and they do play so hard. For us to have that as our last match is great.
While Mansaray and Spurio might have left the field with visions of missed opportunities, Nickley was pleased with the performance. The team proved they could compete at a higher level, he said.
Youre glad youre creating those chances, he said, speaking to T.C.s multiple scoring opportunities. The most difficult thing is to create those chances. The fact they were able to create them is an outstanding effort on their part.
Tournament play for the Titans begins May 16 against an as yet unannounced opponent.