By Marion Valanoski
For The Daily Item
HEPBURNVILLE -- Midd-West did everything you could ask a team to do in the first 15 minutes of its District 4 Class AA quarterfinal matchup against Warrior Run on Saturday at the Balls Mills Complex before coming up short 2-1.
The Mustangs collected three corners in a five-minute span and constantly forced the Defenders to play in the shadow of their own goal. But Warrior Run disrupted the action enough and allowed only Sebastian Callender's header off a scrum in front of the net to head into the break trailing, 1-0.
"The wind was a big factor in the first half and give credit to our back line they played great because Midd-West is excellent with the ball in the air," Defenders coach Doug Bastian said. "Our players were able to maintain their composure and did not panic despite trailing at the break."
The deficit did not last long as Konner Sidler managed to break free at the 36:27 mark of the second half to forge a 1-1 deadlock that stunned the Mustangs, who could not find the back of the net despite dominating the action.
"I thought we came out well and set the tone in the first 15 minutes but could not finish off what we started," Midd-West head coach Chris Sauer said. "Instead of attacking we appeared to play like we wanted to protect that 1-0 lead."
The Defenders (14-5) again took advantage of the one sure opportunity they got late in the match and Elias George took a great pass from Zack Miller and drilled the shot past Elijah Fisher for what would prove to be the winning goal with 14:45 showing on the game clock.
Midd-West made a valiant effort but could not find the equalizer and ended up frustrated in defeat.
"We did not respond in the second half and seemed disjointed," Sauers said. "Again, (we were) worried about holding the lead instead of attacking to increase it."
Warrior Run takes on the winner of a late game between Athens and Central Columbia, at time and site to be announced later.