Officiating can be a scapegoat for teams and coaches following a loss. For the Warren County High School soccer team though, officiating wasn’t a scapegoat, it was the leading cause why the Pioneers’ District 6-AAA record isn’t 2-0.
Warren County held a 2-0 advantage over Coffee County with eight minutes to go, but saw some shady calls down the stretch go in the Red Raiders’ favor, allowing the visitors to claw back for a 2-2 tie.
When games come down to the final seconds, anything out of order seems to come under a microscope. This was the case Thursday night, when a Pioneer player was tackled out of bounds, only to see the Red Raiders rewarded with a free kick. Coffee County scored off the gift from the officials and took a tie back to Manchester.
The call wouldn’t have drawn the ire of the Pioneers players and coach Todd Willmore had it not followed a no-call moments before.
Coffee County scored its first goal in the final 10 minutes when it got a breakaway goal. It was one most in attendance felt should have been disallowed, as the Red Raiders looked offsides on the play.
Still, the Pioneers only needed to survive the final five minutes without allowing a goal to move to the top of the District 6-AAA standings.
It wasn’t to be though, as Warren County couldn’t defend against a free kick in the final seconds. It is a call coach Willmore thought was mishandled.
“My only issue with the no- call was play should not have been restarted with a free kick, but a throw-in, which in my opinion would have been easier to defend,” said Willmore. “However, I told the boys at halftime that we should never be satisfied with 1-0 or even a 2-0 lead. We need to develop that killer instinct and put people away when we have the opportunity.
“I feel for the team. They played such a good game, but have nothing to show for it.”
The Pioneers had built a commanding 2-0 lead by dominating the action for 70 minutes. Warren County got its first goal in the first half when Michael Gallagher found an opening in the Coffee County defense.
Gallagher, who had missed the last two weeks with an injury, was able to beat the Coffee County keeper 20 minutes into the game to give the Pioneers a 1-0 advantage.
Jesus Gonzalez added to the lead in the second half. Gonzalez took a deep shot from the right side, which found the back of the net.
Gonzalez’s make looked like it ensured the Pioneers would even its record at 3-3 and move the team to 2-0 in district, but Coffee County’s rally gave Warren County a bitter pill to swallow.
The Pioneers will have to stew for a week on the tie, which moves Warren County to 2-3-1. Warren County returns to action this Thursday when they play host to Shelbyville. The match at Warren County High School will begin at 7 p.m.