It wasn’t how the Pioneers wanted to debut in 2019.
The Warren County High School soccer team lost a hard-fought match at home Monday to Coffee County, falling 2-0 on its home turf.
The Red Raiders scored both their goals in the second half, including a questionable goal in the final minute, to down the Pioneers in their season opener. It was the kind of effort Warren County coach Matt Jackson expected and hopes he can get every night.
“They played their hearts out. I was very proud,” said Jackson, who is starting his second year back at WCHS. “We had two out with the flu and two more injured. I told the boys if you're called on to fill a role, just do your best. They did.”
Warren County had its share of chances, particularly senior newcomer Alex Flores. The transfer from Texas looked the part of a playmaker, narrowly missing on several tries after making moves to get open.
It proved to be a night of almost goals for the Pioneer offense.
“We had some great opportunities to score and either hit the post or barely missed,” said Jackson.
Keeper Josiah Jackson made sure the Pioneers made it to halftime knotted in a scoreless tie with several diving saves in the first half. Josiah was a rock in the net all night, allowing a transition score in the second half off a turnover right outside the 18-yard box that made it 1-0 with 20 minutes left and a last-second goal that was hotly debated.
Instead of sitting on a 1-0 lead, Coffee County kept attacking in the final five minutes. Jackson was peppered with shots, including a 30-second span where Jackson deflected a scorching high shot over the net.
On the ensuing corner kick, Jackson leapt out to punch one shot out of the box. With Jackson away from the net, Coffee County sent a shot right back in, only to see it deflected by a defender. A third shot came sailing in, but Jackson recovered in time to make a diving save.
The trouble finally seemed to be silenced, but Coffee County tried one last shot from deep. The wet ball seemed to slip through Jackson’s hand, though the keeper seemed to pin the ball against the post.
The side judge ruled the shot crossed the line, making it 2-0 in the final minute.
"They got two lucky goals, one that was highly questionable," said Jackson. "At the end, it was great preparation. Our goal is to get better with each game and finish strong."
Warren County will get a chance to redeem itself Thursday night at home. Weather permitting, the Pioneers are set to play host to Soddy Daisy at 7 p.m.